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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.