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Thursday, December 25, 2008

4th of July in December

Question: What do the Fourth of July and December 25th have in common?

Answer: Fireworks (if you live in Uruguay, that is)!

Last night, December 25th, at midnight, we were treated with a fireworks display that would rival any neighborhood 4th of July in the States. We had little hints over the previous few days- stray firecrackers going off at odd hours. I think we had heard about this, but never really put it together. But the stroke of midnight settled all doubts, as firecrackers and lots and lots of rockets lit up the night sky.

I guess this explains why Santa stations himself at the North Pole- the danger of being shot down over Uruguay.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Learning to Live With It

We we finally got delivery of our custom desk, to fit in the alcove off of our dining area. About 6 weeks ago the carpinteria (carpenter) said it would be ready in 3 weeks. Welcome to Uruguay.

However, after it was delivered and installed we looked over the desk. It is really bad. I could have done a much better job (if I had been so inclined). The piece was not properly sanded, the finish was not properly applied. The stain is very splotchy and there are even some drips. Two of of the little door panels have the grain running in a different direction. The routing on the doors is uneven in places. There are screws showing on a finished surface!

Still, it is finished and installed. The black granite top (purchased from a different source) will be delivered Tuesday and then it will be usable. However, after looking at the piece and rating it 5 out of a possible 10, I really don't feel that bad. It looks like an old piece of built in furniture that we found in the house and decided to keep. And after all is said and done, it does fit perfectly in the space and it does give Denise and I all the desk and storage space we need.

So am I complaining? Actually not (to my great surprise). I am learning that as long as it works and isn't hideous- let's get on with life. We are getting everything we want. The quality might not be the best- but it is within our limited budget and everything is solidly built. So what is there to complain about? Sit back, enjoy the breeze off the water, pour a glass of wine (essential in these situations), cook up some dinner and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You Get What You Pay For

When I came back from shopping at Tienda Inglesa, today, Denise was fit to be tied. It turns out that the work we had completed did not meet her standards. And after looking at it, I could see why.

You see, we got our new front door security bars installed. They actually look great. However, we did not get them primarily for security. We got them because we wanted a secure front door that we could open during hot weather, with a mosquito screen. You don't see the screen do you? That is because the herrero put the screen on the outside. The ugly frame with a thousand pop rivets and screen were put on the outside. The lovely design of the door that matches the design on the gate cannot be seen- so we took off the screens and will pay to have it done the right way. We want the neighbors to see the design, not the rivets....

Oh well, you get what you pay for. The guy does nice work, a clean installation (within reason) but no idea what the finished job should look like. To be fair, however, even paying for a new screen will cost less than other estimates. But (and let's all say this together) "You get what you pay for!"

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Gate

"Friday's child is full of woe"... is how that poem goes in some versions. But here, Friday's child just keeps on keepin on. We are at the end of a very productive week and considering that a bad storm was predicted (it never showed up), we accomplished much more than expected.

I don't know about you, but I am getting tired of seeing and posting information about half-finished projects. I long to see something totally finished. Even the gate needs painting and a good solid padlock (hard to find, here). At this stage, however, things are moving along more rapidly. And each day sees something new accomplished, so I can hardly expect more. After all, we have only been in this country 6 months and what more could we expect? We don't even have our official residency, yet and we own a house and are well underway on the projects. Hey, let's loosen up a little, sit back and enjoy the weekend. Sun is shining, there is a pound cake in the oven and I am about to prepare some of the fresh strawberries Denise bought at the feria, yesterday. Then I'll whip up some whipcream with some of the delicious cream you get here. Life is not that bad. By the way, the other version of the poem reads, "Friday's child is loving and giving...." That's the version I like.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lesson Well Learned

Sometimes It Just Feels This Way
"I've got a 'what' pointed at my head?"
I have learned a valuable lesson when it comes to doing work on our house- actually 2 lessons.

Lesson 1- get all the particulars in writing. I have always been used to verbal agreements and it has usually worked out well. However, when you don't speak the language well, a verbal agreement might not be what you think it is. Point in case: the security door for our parilla area. I thought that it included the glass. Apparently it didn't, so we now have to get a window person to measure, cut and install the glass. I was a little angry at first (actually quite angry) because I thought it was agreed to have the herrero (iron worker) install the glass, but apparently I was wrong. And I am pretty sure the error was on my part, since an herrero probably doesn't install glass. Just a warning to get it in writing (so you can run home to the dictionary and look up all the words....).

Lesson 2- use professionals. I have a bomba de agua (pump operated well) for irrigation purposes. I needed to get pipes all over the yard so that we can water vegetables, lawn, etc. I arranged for a sanitario (plumber) to install the lines, but he couldn't get to it in time so I did a little section of the plumbing myself. However, I used 1/2" line (which is common here). When the plumber saw it, he commented that 1" is better to allow the pump to work freely and not labor. We tore out my section and the plumber is back today to install the line. I am glad I didn't do the job myself (I actually considered that) as I would have put in all the wrong line and eventually burned out the bomba.

So, lessons learned: get it in writing and pay a professional to do a professional job.

ps- the cannon was found near the port in Montevideo.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Don't DIY

I have always been a do it yourself kind of guy. In over 35 years of marriage I can count the number of times I have paid to have a car repaired, plumbing fixed, house remodeled, etc. I only paid someone to do things that I could not do (and I am pretty handy).

All that has changed since we've moved to Uruguay. I am now having more work done by other people than I have ever had done in my life. I often have 4-5 people working here at any given time and I just check in and see how the work is going. I am learning to delegate. And it's not easy. Take the new door the the parilla (BBQ). I had an iron worker (herrero) build it, but thought that we would install it.

When the door arrived, it had steel tabs welded to the outside frame. Normally you would set these tabs in cement. However, the door was to go inside 3 solid surfaces (concrete or brick), and I couldn't see how they could be installed. So I decided to ask the herrero to give me a price to install it and the large iron gate and decided to let him do it.

The first thing that he did was cut off those tabs (he also saw that it would be impossible to install it by that method). And this is my lesson for the day. Let people who make things install them. If they run into problems they know how to work it out. Anyway, they are about 75% finished and I am so glad that I let them do it. I never would have figured it out and it will be installed, cemented in, adjusted and the locks set for a total of $80 (US). You can't beat that and they have all the headaches.

He is also installing the gate. As you can see, he first has poured a nice concrete channel and set the steel guide for the wheels. After a few days, he will come back and set the gate.

One the of the advantages of having the manufacturer install is that if it doesn't work correctly, he can't blame the installer. I am getting smarter in my old age (I know- it's about time).

Friday, November 28, 2008

Things Are Shaping Up

The electrician finished up this week. His work tended to be a little expensive (we took his bid, and he ended up working 2 6-hour days at a little over $100/day), but he did a great job. He replaced the old fuses in the original electric box with new breakers (would it have killed him to make the mounting strip level?) and installed a GFCI switch, as well. I probably will use him to install a new main cable from the meter to the house, despite the cost, since he did the job right and I learned by watching.

Then he wired in lighting options for the front patio and hooked them up to a convenient set of switches inside the house (shown in the inset of the photo at right). There will be on circuit for the two entry post lights, another for some colored mood lighting against the walls and a third for a small fountain.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Tale of Two Mixers

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. We we are on our 2nd cement mixer. The first mixer went through 3 motors (each one lasting no more than a day) before we returned that one and got the one you see pictured. Most of the equipment sold here is Chinese (and cheap Chinese, at that). The first mixer we bought had the height to mix a batch of concrete and pour directly into a wheelbarrow (we are on our 3rd wheelbarrow). In Uruguay, if they use a mixer, they mix the concrete then pour it on the ground and shovel into buckets to move the load.

We had hoped the first mixer would work out, but it didn't. So, we bought a common mixer (it has lasted for weeks, now) and Tony our helper, built this little platform to allow us to pour directly into the wheelbarrow, thus saving one step.

We finally received the gate for our back yard. It was delivered yesterday. From the look of it, we are going to be locked up like Fort Knox. It is very, very solid.

The electrician is here, he is upgrading the old fuse box with new breakers. I am impressed that the work is being done very professionally. He has already found several splices in the middle of some of the old wires that he has pulled out. They will be replaced with unbroken runs directly through conduit to the breaker box.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Today was quiet!

Today, was kind of a laid back day. Here is a picture to show you why we love our houses'  location and how we can chill out when needed!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rock and Roll in Uruguay

This is not about music of any sort, actually. In fact it is about rocks and plants, but I thought "Rock and Roll" was a more eye-catching title, so I went with it (got your attention, didn't it?).

Today I visited Carmine Russo, providers of natural stone products in Montevideo. I went to order 3 large treads to make them safer to step on, for the entry steps to our upper patio. We could have used marble, granite or slate. We chose slate for safety and also because we have a lot of stone in the walls of the house. The picture at the right is a sample of their showroom.

I needed 3 pieces of stone: 45 cm x 194 cm and 3 cm thick (18" x 76" x 1 1/8"). I am having them made with a large bullnose finish on the front and they will be in 2 pieces for each step. The total cost came to $336. That was about $100 cheaper than granite and I think it will be a more durable and suitable material for steps. I don't know if this is less or much, much more than I would pay in the U.S., since I have never bought that type of stone before. I would be curious if anyone has a comparison price.

Anyway, the showroom was fantastic and I could go with stone for just about any use, after seeing the variety of colors and texture.

On the way home Denise wanted me to pick up some mint plants, because ants don't like mint. So I stopped at PachaMama's Vivero (nursery). I couldn't buy the mint because they had 7 different varieties, and I am not authorized to make executive level decisions such as that. In fact, he had any plant you could want: 17 colors of cherry tomatoes, about 25-50 varieties of peppers, all the fruit trees you could ask for and much, much more. I will have to take Denise back (with a trailer and lots of money). Just to give you an idea of prices- the fruit trees (all grafted and about 4-5' in height) were about 200 pesos (under $7). He also had an extensive collection of cactus and succulents. Denise will have a field day. We plan to plant our fruit trees espalier style. We will set up posts and run wire between them and train the tree branches onto the wires, no more than 5' high. That way the fruit is easily harvested and we can run irrigation lines along the guide wires. This is a very civilized way to grow fruit. Don't worry, we will also build a "cage" to keep birds from gathering the harvest.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Almost Monday

Well this is Sunday- a beautiful sunny, warm day with light cooling breezes and blue skies. Enough gloating- on to the details.

Denise's back steps are all but finished (a few grout joints and we are ready to move on). She has found some lavender plants and if she can find mint- will plant those terra cotta pots with that. Mint and lavender tend to ward off flies and ants.

      We are on our 4th concrete mixer. The first three (actually one mixer and three new motors) never did last for more than a day. China is a wonderful country, but they make lousy tools. Finally the owner of the ferreteria (hardware) gave us another model and that has been working great. Still Chinese-made, but a little better quality.

We lay out on lounges today, working on a tan. I have never had the inclination, time or patience to "work on a tan", but I do now. And far fewer flies and mosquitoes than I had expected; in fact almost none. It may be the hot weather, nearness to the salt water or just the general lay of the land- but I am not complaining. I remember in Seattle- you couldn't sit out for more than a few minutes without wasps or flies attacking the food, and in the evening the mosquitoes would kill you. I had expected worse here, but not so. Of course, this is just a month or so into the season when the outdoors is becoming attractive, so it may get worse later on- but for now we are enjoying it.

We have ordered a sliding metal gate to close off the back yard. Denise came up the the design and if it looks anything like we want- it will be spectacular. Then a new replacement door off of the patio by the parrilla (BBQ area) because the old one had rusted, we needed to replace it. Soon we will be completely secure and private in our back yard. Then I won't have to worry about tan lines (if you get my drift). So we are looking forward to this next week, hoping to see footers and block started.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Real Estate Taxes

Well I paid the remainder of the real estate taxes yesterday. There are 2 taxes you pay on property: 1) Contribucion Inmobelieria (Real Estate Tax) and 2) Impuesta Primaria (School Tax). The Contribucion can be paid in any number of payment plans. Ours seems to be 6 payments per year (1 every other month). The payment amounts to about $42 per month. Of course you must remember that this pays for twice a week trash pickup. And they pick up everything. Any trash that you can bag (or even set out next to the trash area) is picked up (green, trash, concrete debris- whatever). I also covers street lighting (and there is a nice light right on our corner) and road improvements. Every year the main roads are re-graded and topped off with fresh rock. The roads being unpaved will look good for the tourist season, and the first big rain causes the ruts and holes to reappear (such is life in the slow lane).

The Impuesta is even more reasonable (less than $3 per month). And of course the school system if very good here and most Uruguayans are very well educated and have access to free education up through college (should they choose to use it).

So the taxes on a seaside house, with unobstructed beach views in a nice neighborhood ends up being about $44/month or a little over $500 per year. I think this is a tax burden we can live with.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

These Photos Just In

Well, I broke down and bought a camera, today. Nice little Vivitar, priced well below the Canon camera that we had been using.

These are the back steps that Tony installed (he is grouting, today). He took some of the slate we pulled out of the front yard and did "crazy paving" as the Brits call it.

                                                  Slate, tile and a little
rock planter make a very interesting corner. With the trashy trees and bushes removed from the back yard near the Denise's vegetable garden, she hopes to start eating fresh produce soon. I am sure it will rival the garden she had in Seattle. She already has some tomatoes, lettuce and squash plants growing in the black plastic bags full of soil. It will probably be too late for a regular crop by the time we get our raised planters built.
So work continues and by Friday we hope to be making progress rather than backtracking...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Frog Turds

Today's post will be without photos (partly due to the nature of the post and partly due to the fact that I have not visited Tienda Inglesa to buy a new camera).

For several days we have noticed tiny little turds near the back door and near the laundry. I have never seen a little dog in the area that would produce such leavings. However, today Tony told me that those are frog turds. Man! I would never believe, nor have ever seen, any before. In fact, until I was told that, I never actually put any thought to how frogs and toad do their "business". Mystery solved.

Yesterday was a disaster. A tractor came in to remove about 3-4 stumps and when he left, the place looked like the aftermath of WWII. We had had some tall trees removed because everybody told us "pine trees have a very shallow root system". The guy who cut the trees told is it was a good idea. The guy who came in to take the roots out told us that it was necessary to remove all three, because he probably would have disturbed the roots on the 2 smaller trees when he removed the large tree stump.  We chose to "make things simple" by having them all removed. So much for "making things simple".

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Wierd Day

This is truly a wierd day. Tony's car was not repaired yesterday, so we canceled work and we've had a day off on Wednesday. It was a hot day (mid 80's) and lots of sun, with the occasional cooling breeze.

Had a nice breakfast and coffee and while sitting here, I thought about our Seattle house, compared to our Marindia house. You may remember that Denise really did a nice landscaping job on the back yard in Seattle. And the year before we left, I built a very nice deck, against the commercial building that backed up our lot. To hide the stark metal building, somewhat, Denise found a hand painted backdrop of a south sea destination. When we put that up, you could look out the kitchen window and see the deck and that painted picture.

Our Marindia house has this type of view from the kitchen window. Now I don't know about you, but the hand painted backdrop is not as nice as the real thing.

Another thing that made this a wierd day was the weather. Remember hot and mid 80's? But at around 3:00pm, it got a little cloudy and soon began to rain. Then thunder and then lots of rain and finally (and you are going to have to take my word on this)- HAIL! Yes, hail. And not small little hail, but pretty good size balls of ice. Now it didn't hail long and the hail didn't stay around long at all, and now at 4:30- it is crystal clear and sunny and warm, again. I guess weather in Uruguay is like weather in Seattle. If you don't like the weather, wait a little and it will change.

The picture at the left is from today (Thursday), since I decided to add one more photo of the view (at 8:00 am in the morning). Now those of you who know me may be amazed at my reduced waist size. Do not be fooled- there was major "gut suckage" going on while Denise took the picture. I have lost some weight, and I obviously have a tan- but I've got a long way to go before I actually look like this picture.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Trees and the view!

We had the last 2 trees removed today. They took down an old, dead tree that overhung our balcony. As they did with other trees, they ran a rope to a nearby tree, and used it to fell the tree in the safest direction. it worked well and neither the house nor the balcony were harmed.

We are well on our way with the outside projects. Most of the inside work, now has come to a comfortable level.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Safe back steps!

We started a small project,  a set of back steps for the laundry door exit. Before, there were only some stone laid on some dirt. Not so trustworthy to use especially as often we needed to use this back door.

Since Tony is here, working on the back steps, we thought he could take a look at our septic. We found that the system installed is much more than a simple set of rings, common to Uruguayan houses. It is, in fact an engineered septic system. It is actually huge (about 8' by 8') and a fully contained concrete vault. That's good news.

 Danny (Tony's son-in-law), is also available to work with us so I can still pretend that I am retired (even though I have to work at least a couple of hours, with Tony being close to 69 and all).

An interesting side note on Tony. He is soon going to have a hip replacement operation (at no cost with private medical insurance). As part of the preparations for the operation, they sent a doctor out to his house to inspect conditions, in case they were not suitable for recuperation. If they had been unsuitable, they would have kept him in the hospital. Now is that thorough, or what?

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Great Outdoors

Well we started on the first of our outdoor projects today. Since Aldo is off to New York, we were fortunate to run across Tony Grimwade- a transplanted Brit and former resident of Spain (12 years). Tony's wife, Noeli, is a master ceramics worker and instructor and she
brought Tony back to Uruguay, when Spain became more expensive to live in.

Tony is an experience. He has more stories than Kipling. And despite having spent over 12 years in Spanish speaking countries- like a true Brit, he disdains speaking Spanish with anything even close to a Spanish accent.

He sounds like an Englishman speaking Spanish (which I guess he is, "idn't he?"). Anyway, Tony is a master concrete worker, among other things, and avid (and I actually mean rabid) gardener. So he will be helping us get our back yard set up for vegetable production. Starting with the backs steps here, we will progress to raised planter beds and hopefully espaliered fruit trees, with a pleasant graveled seating area, surrounded by lavender, much like we had in Seattle. And when I say "we"- do not be shocked to see me actually lifting more than a finger. Since Tony is close to 70, I couldn't very well let him work in the hot sun without doing something. With Tony's help, we may get a planting in this year. But if not, we will be set up for future production.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Life Without Aldo

Well Aldo worked late last night to finish the last bit of Denise's bathroom. He will be gone for 2 months, during which time we are back on our own. But at least we have 2 nicely finished bathrooms to enjoy.

Don't try to adjust your monitor- the color in Denise's bathroom is pink (perhaps the color of her top gives you an idea that she likes pink). Mine is blue, hers is pink and we have custom signs- "Damas" y "Caballeros" being made for the doors. As you can see, Denise had the frameless glass bath enclosure installed that I have in my shower (if I had it, she needed it). We have wanted 2 bathrooms for almost 18 years and we had to move to South America to get them. Perhaps we should have looked into a home improvement loan in Seattle, but it is too late now.

Denise just came back from the farmer's market (feria) and bought all kinds of vegetables, fish and cheese. She spent $30 (US) but came back with a little wire cart full of groceries. And great quality, too.

The weather today is the best in weeks. Sunny, warm- so even though we are going to have to cope with things on our own, perhaps it will work out well, after all.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Dirt on Uruguay

Well we bought some dirt, today. As you may remember, most of our beach area is made up entirely of sand. When you go out into the yard to dig, a few inches of soil is all you find and then it is sand, all the way. Now that is good for weeding. I can't believe that I can pull dandelions out, root and all, just by hand.

But for growing plants, you need soil. The group of 50 bags (about a liter each) cost just under $43 (US). I wasn't able to find someone to sell us truckloads of soil (tierra negra), but the fellow who delivered this sells directly to the viveros (nurseries) and sold it at the same price. As you can see, it is quite a good quality mulched planting mix. So, good price or not, we have soil and we'll start planting some of the plants we took out for the wall and then we'll start looking for more. We were directed to a vivero no far from here- "Pachamamas". The name alone, sells me.

Denise bruised her leg yesterday on our first little motorcycle accident. Coming around the corner, the neighbor had put sand in the road to fill in the deep ruts, but the little scooter has such small wheels that they just buried themselves and turned the bike down. No permanent damage, but I will be calling her "the gimp" for a week or so. So our planting will be her pointing and me actually doing the planting. Do you think she is faking the injury?

The weather has been spectacular lately. Beautiful blue skies and the nights have had more stars than I have seen in decades. Can hardly wait for the summer.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Finished Product

Well, the shower door enclosure has been installed and the first bathroom, for all intents and purposes is completed. The smoked glass, frameless shower doors look great against the grey tile and the nice blue fixtures set off the trim and wall color. All in all, we are very pleased with the result.

As you can see, all of the colors work nicely. All that remains for this bathroom is the sign "Boy's Room" and we are finished.
Now Denise's bathroom ("Girl's Room"), well underway at the left, has the same floor and wall tile, but a pink trim piece and her walls will be pink, with white fixtures. So, while they are similar, they will be customized to each of our wishes.

Also- since Aldo is traveling back to New York in a few weeks, he added a helper and have started with the drop ceiling to hide the ductwork for our forced air fireplace system. We are getting into better weather now and soon plan to start painting and working on some of the outside projects we have. By "we", of course, I mean people that we can find to do the work. After all, if we ended up doing the work- we wouldn't be retired.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

New Transportation

We are now, officially, a two "car" family in Uruguay. Denise has been envying the freedom I've enjoyed by having my motorcycle and has been lobbying for her own. So that she could use it with a dress, we have chosen to get a scooter style motorcycle.

and models), but all of them in our price range were Chinese anyway, so we decided to buy the model that Tienda Inglesa sells. We have been advised that the quality control is faulty and there may be problems, There were several choices available (Uruguay has a wealth of makes but we felt that TI was such a big store that they might stand behind their products, even if and when they change brands. We had already purchased a new helmet for her, so look out world- Denise may be appearing on a street near you (if you live in Uruguay). I actually took the bike for a spin to fill it up, as it was delivered with only a liter of gas. I was quite impressed, and the automatic transmission makes it quite easy to drive.

The workers have been clearing out dead plants and some bushes along our fence, today . Cleaning, patching and white washing the fence has really improved the entire look of our backyard. We are happy that our house came fenced but it really needs to also have a locking gate installed to make it secure. It will be quite a relief to have the yard to ourselves, when we add a gate.

The back yard, at this point, is  basically a clean slate for us to start landscaping. As we stand near the BBQ area (parilla), we now have this beautiful view of our cleaned up and soon to be  private back yard.

Above the fence is this beautiful array of trees. It makes us feel that we are in the middle of a jungle or forest in a private compound. And the weather is starting to turn warmer. We can hardly wait for the great weather. Spring has just begun and we have a few more months until summer (December-January). Still we are not complaining about our winter months or even these early months of spring.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Back in Business

Bought a new (read used) camera from MercadoLibre (read Latin American eBay) today and I am back in the digital business, again. Actually the charger that came with the camera will also charge the old batteries, so I now have a backup camera.

Aldo finished the first bathroom (with a few improvements to come). Looks great, and with the smaller sized fixtures, it looks like we have loads of room. Friday they will install a glass shower enclosure and we will be finished with the first bathroom.

This is the beginning of the second bathroom remodel- destroyed as per plan. It has a tub. It will be the grey tile, but with rose colored accents and painted rose colored walls (definitely the girl's room).

Denise finally got a DOT approved helmet, yesterday and can legally ride with me. It was just in time. We had made one trip without the helmet, until we found out it is a $200 (or so) fine. Coming back from our first legal trip, the other day- we were stopped by the traffic police. They make random checks for license and registration. It is a good thing we had everything in order, or else we would be crying, now. And the cost of the helmet has been offset by not getting a ticket.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Death of A Camera

Unfortunately my camera died. So until that is corrected- I won't be able to post new pics. I won't be able to show you the lovely cleaned back yard. Nor can I post pictures of our bathroom (small but nicely finished). Nor can I post pictures of my new regrowth of hair and slimming waistline (I wish). So for now- we are on hold....

Sunday, September 14, 2008

End of the Week

This week has seen good progress on our first bathroom and also the sprucing up of our back yard wall (fence).

The bathroom now has almost all of the tile set and Aldo has started to finish the wall where we used to have tile. It's beginning to look like we may get the bathrooms both finished before Aldo returns to New York, in mid- October.

We expect to be able to start landscaping the back yard by the end of this month. That will be something Denise and I do, together.

It is Sunday and this is the only day during the week that we don't have workers on the property. We enjoyed pancakes, this morning (on our new electric griddle) and later, we will have roasted chicken for dinner. The chicken here (as well as all of the meat) is the best we have ever had. It will fortify us for the week to come.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Plaster Going Up - Trees Coming Down

The internet has been down for almost a week. Finally decided to make the call to tech support and they came out today and replaced the modem. Swift service and we are back online.

Well, we are well underway, here. There were several dangerous trees that needed to go and this past week, they came down. Two pine trees in the front were threatening the foundation and also hanging over the driveway (causing delivery trucks to run off the driveway to avoid hitting the tree). Both of them are gone, now- as well as another one of the thorny trees in the back yard. This week, when we remove the last of the thorn tree in the front, we will have all of the trees removed that we wanted.

Aldo is coming along nicely on the first bathroom. He is setting floor tile, today. One of the problems here is that you can't always get what you want from the local suppliers. For instance, Aldo is doing some plastering, since we are only going to 4 foot height with the tile (in order to give a little more feeling of space). You normally use a "hawk and trowel" for this work. Well, you can get trowels, but a hawk (tool used to hold the plaster, while you apply it with a trowel) is not easy to come by. So Aldo manufactured his own. He used a piece of firewood for the handle and the last picture shows where he got the material for the flat surface. You make do or do without is the motto, here.