Category Archives: Construction

Painting the House

Finally, after 15 years living in this house, it was time to paint the front. What, in theory, should have been done in two days took three weeks. But is anyone surprised?

First, we found that the tan paint we chose seemed very yellow when applied. Mixing some dark brown took it to a peachy hue that looked great with both the tejas (tiles) and brown doors. The second bucket ended up slightly darker when the brown paint was added, but not enough for anyone but me to notice.

My husband trimmed out the windows and doors with a stripe of brown. We talked about adding another stripe to the base, but in the end, we decided against it. However, the wall on the far side of the animal gate needed a little something extra. My husband wanted a picture of a horse and two horseshoes. I found some images on the internet that I submitted to my artist friend Claudia and the end result was even better than I had hoped.

Of course, getting it on the wall was a challenge. We rented an andamio (scaffolding) for 6 days. My husband needed it for the second-floor painting, and Claudia needed it for the upper part of the mural. For three days, it sat there. No one used it. Since the price was a daily charge, I wasn’t too happy about that. The painter and artist were “too busy.”  

When Claudia finally came, she didn’t bring her chalk line to mark the sections. She has recently moved, and it didn’t turn up in her boxes she had unpacked. So my son, Claudia, and I attempted to mark the perimeter with burnt sticks, a measuring tape, and string. It didn’t advance much at all. She arrived too late in the day to continue after we boxed the frame in anyway. The front of the house is hot as hades after 1 pm. 

The next day, I sent my husband to buy a chalk line before Claudia arrived. By now, we were at day 5 of the 6-day rental. She had a rough start to her morning since she was responsible for feeding someone’s pets while they were on vacation, delivered a contribution to a kermes (charity meal) for medical expenses of a family member, and then had to go back home because she’d left something there. She finally arrived around 10 am. With the chalk line, things progressed faster. She managed to outline the full mural and paint the upper half before she called it a day.

Then we had our own crisis or two going on. The doorknob between the garage and the kitchen broke, leaving us all locked out of the house. Having been locked out a time or two before in my life, I grabbed a screwdriver and lifted the pins from the hinges. That did the trick. Of course, putting the pins back in took longer.

Jolina also decided she needed to give birth right then. Being one of our most frustrating goats, she decided that she would do so under the food trough. My son had a hard time getting the two little ones out. They are fit and healthy, but Jolina isn’t interested in being their mother. She did fine last year with the circus twins. But with these two, she hides under the trough most of the day so the kids can’t get anything to eat. We’ve tried locking her in with her kids in a separate stall, but that doesn’t work either. So my husband and son take turns forcing Jolina to hold still so her kids can eat. 

Back to the painting…since Claudia worked past the 1 pm shadow, the next morning she had a terrible headache, so no work was done that day. When she recovered and returned, the painting was done in about 2 hours. 

While Claudia was working, the men of La Yacata mosied by. There isn’t a lot of entertainment in these parts, and a pretty girl creating art is one of the seven wonders, apparently. I sent my son out periodically to run interference. He’d glare at the gawkers until they mosied away. 

My husband didn’t finish painting the upper story when the scaffolding was here either. He had to drag the extension ladder to finish up. He said that he wanted to ask for another day. I said only if he were paying for the additional day. The guy came to pick up the scaffolding when agreed upon originally. He also didn’t think to ask for the cash before I started teaching for the day. Mid-class, my husband burst into the computer room and asked for the money for the rental fee. 

Just as Claudia was finishing up, my husband got a bee in his bonnet about adding a nostril and eye to the horse shadow. Claudia tried to talk him out of it, but he insisted. So now, the horse is sort of a zombie horse–since the “light” is coming through at those parts. I might just go and dab some brown paint one of these days. 

Anyway, the front of the house is painted now. So there’s that.


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Quarantine Project #4 — Back Porch Planters

Once the tinacos were moved to the new roof, my husband started on the back porch. I wanted some additional planters and had him make them from the bases where the tinacos had been.

Since growing our own food has been a priority for some time, I used one to plant leafy greens and the other for root vegetables. 

After we got Fuzz, the planters were completely ransacked after he figured out how to climb that high. I replanted with some larger plants instead and that seems to be more to his liking. He hasn’t bothered them yet anyway.

My husband also ran a tube from one of the tinacos on the roof and attached a short hose for watering. Since we have a rain barrel there as well, there is plenty of water (at least in the rainy season). 

He hasn’t finished the patching of the wall on this section of the house either. I know it is his least favorite part of construction, so I’m sure he’ll put it off indefinitely. Meanwhile, about those tejas from Quarantine Project #1….

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Quarantine Project #3 — Rooftop Garden

Since we now had a solid roof instead of laminas (corrugated steel roofing) over the animals, my husband decided he’d move the tinacos from the back porch to there. We are now up to six 1100 liter tinacos and a 5000 liter aljibe (cistern) for water storage. As my son says, you just can’t have too much water. 

I told my husband several times that he’d need to make the tinacos higher to account for the difference in the fall from where they were to where he put them. He didn’t pay me any mind until after the tinacos were filled when he discovered that they weren’t high enough for gravity to completely empty them. So once we used the water, he raised the bases some more before the next water shipment. 

We went back and forth on where to put the entranceway to the new area, from the front or back porch. The back porch would require an additional walkway, but I still think it’s a good idea. The entrance ended up being smack dab in the middle of my flower garden. I made him move the plants first though.

Then the wall needed to be raised. If you remember, that area was really our weakest spot when it comes to security. Anyone could hop on the neighbor’s roof and swing over into the front garden area if they really had a mind to. So up the wall went. 

We went back and forth on whether to put a transparent lamina roof or reuse the old roof or to leave it open. I thought a roof would be best, although I wasn’t sure if I’d have quite enough money to get new laminas. In order to put a roof up, we needed to get some beams for support. That cost a bit more than I expected, but we managed.

Then the beams had to be set and welded into place. Instead of having the welder guy come out and do it, my husband said he’d do it. We would just need to rent the welding machine. Just like the last time, there was an issue that we didn’t have an actual address in La Yacata but my husband talked the guy into it, signing a pagaré (promissory note) as collateral. 

I told my husband that he needed to wear the face mask to protect his eyes when welding. He thought it was too hot and cumbersome, so he popped out the little screen piece and held that up to his eyes while he welded instead.

So it should come as no surprise that later that evening he had problems seeing. His eyes swelled up, became bloodshot, and were light sensitive. Since going to the doctor wasn’t really a viable option at the moment, I looked up some things I could do to help him at home. First, darken the rooms. Then I had him put chamomile tea bags on his eyes. He alternated with aloe vera gel from the plants we have outside and Vicks vapor rub–the Mexican catch all. 

Chamomile tea bags on his eyes.

My husband asked if onion slices would work–another Mexican remedy. I told him no, but that potato or cucumber slices would be better. We didn’t have any cucumbers but we did have some potatoes. He spent the next day in the dark with his eyes closed using these treatments. 

By the third day, he was up and around again, although he said that things were blurry. 

We ran into a hitch in the project procession because by now it was Semana Santa and the lamina place was closed. So it was yet another week until the laminas could be purchased. 

The money budgeted for this project wasn’t enough to buy all the transparent laminas that we needed. So one section of the roof reused the laminas that had been there before. It cuts down on the sunshine some, but not a lot. 

I badgered my husband into giving up two animal troughs for plants. He wasn’t using them anyway. They were just taking up space. I bought a few more flower pots, took possession of several buckets that were cracked and couldn’t hold water anymore, and a section of old wheelbarrow.

I wasn’t really happy that the roof just ended somewhat abruptly. I lobbied for a metal fence. My husband said he was going to make me a wooden one with the pallets he was using to keep Jolina out of the food. I also pointed out that he would be able to make a small brick wall there too, since we already had the material. 

The pallets he used to section off an area of the corral for food after he made Lady’s new stall. So instead, he used some metal bars to create a sort of fence. It’s only partially completed, although we have all the materials he needs. 

He also didn’t take the time to patch the wall with cement before he hung my planters, so there’s that to finish too. I suppose eventually he’ll get around to it.

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