Category Archives: Construction

A bit of remodeling–Sitting around the house

I think I may have gotten a bit carried away with chairs.  For so long, we haven’t had a decent chair or sofa to sit on.  Now we have plenty if anyone is thinking about coming for a visit.


First, from one of the carpenters that we didn’t get the bedside tables from, I bought this Adirondack chair for the back porch.  I adore it.  My son said I look like a little kid in it.  I guess because maybe my feet don’t touch the ground.


Then from the guy who sold the bedside tables before we could snatch them up, I bought this rocking chair.  I love it!  But yet again, my son says it is too big for me.  It’s supposedly for the front porch, whenever that gets done.


Then there are the 6 chairs from the indigenous tent guy with the wife, twin toddlers and 4 year old, plus a couple of puppies.  We weren’t as happy with these, mostly because of the poor stain job.  Plus, it took 3 trips to pick them up.  Each time a new finished time was given.  The chairs, however, are sturdy and should last a good while, although not too comfortable.



Then we had carpenter Harley redo the legs of the last 3 chairs that came with the table my mom gave me for our wedding.  The tops were still good.  The legs not so much.  Remember that spectacular fall? While he was at it, he restained the table.  Looks good, doesn’t it?  The chairs came back much shorter than they went, so it was a good thing we had already purchased those 6 other chairs for the table.  They’re still good though.  I use one for my sewing machine and two for my puzzle table.


I also had carpenter Harley make me a bench for my piano–another sitting place.  


And finally, we brought the cute little brown chairs from the Little House in Sunflower Valley for this little sitting area in front of the window. These are the only sitting spots that were not handcrafted, although the table was made by my son.

So while we do not have a couch, there certainly are plenty of places to just sit around the house these days!




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A bit of remodeling–The Laundry Room

laundry area

The former second-floor laundry area, complete with hand pump connected to the ajibe (dry well).

Even though I now have a washer at the little house in Sunflower Valley, we opted to keep our laundry room in La Yacata with some improvements, that is.  I never minded hand washing and having a wash area is a good thing in the event of a variety of end of the world scenarios.  I wouldn’t want my family to be dirty and ragged now, would I?

We picked up a larger lavadera (washboard) when we picked up the toilet and sink.  I wanted one where the water from the hand pump would be on one side instead of the barrica (barrel) so that’s what we got.  

It was heavy and cumbersome to take upstairs.  The base that held the former washboard had to be altered to accommodate the new one.  My husband wanted to have it flush against the wall which required removing part of the washboard.  As we no longer had our power inverter to run the power tools, he tried using a hammer and chisel on it.  Well, it cracked.  After looking at it for about 10 minutes, he decided the only thing to do was to take it to the little house in Sunflower Valley, which has electricity and finish the job.

That meant carting it back downstairs, loading it onto the truck, driving to Sunflower Valley and using the power tool to cut that stubborn piece off.  Then we had to bring it back, haul it up the stairs again and reposition the monster.  A little bit of jiggling and a little more hammer and chiseling and it fell perfectly into position.

I also wanted a backsplash because I do tend to throw the suds around when I wash.  So using the leftover of tile, that’s what my husband did. He also painted a stripe.  He really likes painting stripes.  One time, I remember coming home from work in Virginia and found he had painted a green stripe all around the living room.  When I asked him why he had done that, he said he was bored.  This time I at least got to pick the color of the stripe.

The last bit was installing the double-sided mirror in the space that used to be a window.  The whole concept just seemed confusing to my son, but the end result is more light reflected back into both the laundry room and the main room.



Other room reflection

The laundry room isn’t quite finished.  The handpump will be moved downstairs to get water directly from the dry well. We still need to get a faucet and tinaco (water storage container) and then figure out how to get water to the second-floor roof.  But that’s a project for another day.


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A bit of remodeling–The stairs and backroom

Pictured above you can see the stairs and back room when they were just the stairs and back porch.  This was our son’s fifth birthday party.  A number of the attendees are no longer with us, sadly.

In the remodel, the stairs were more time consuming than the huge expanse of floor that made up the upstairs living area because of all the angles and cuts.  There was also a limit that could be done each day which was the reach of my husband’s arm.  But little, by little, he tiled the stairs.

We had decided on the wooden handrail, but we had to wait a bit for that.  Carpenter Harley’s business was booming and he couldn’t get to it right away. When it was finally ready, my husband changed his mind on where he wanted the first post to be.  I had to work so I let them duke it out on their own.  My husband won the battle but the railing is one post short.

The stairs after we made a room out of the back porch.

The railing was sturdier than I imaged it would be for the price Carpenter Harley charged us.  Of course, installation took all day.  It didn’t help that the carpenter left all his tools at home and had to go and get them before he and his son could even get started. Despite all that, I am so pleased with the finished result!

No, these are not Christmas lights.  The steps are very dark at night and in lieu of actual electricity, I ordered a string of solar lights.  My husband installed the recharging panel outside and ran these little lights through a hole in the wall.  Now, there are twinkling (or not) lights at the top of our stairs to aid in ascent and descent.

The backroom

We mostly used the backroom for a lot of junk storage.  We don’t have any closets and some things (like my school supplies) are just too costly to replace.  So the room was piled high with boxes of stuff.




My husband and son made some awesome bookshelves a few years ago for me.  Before that, my books were in piles around the house.  (No closets remember?)  He added some doors to the top shelves for a new storage space. My husband left a gap between the bottom of the bookshelves and the floor for that tile we were going to put down someday.


Well, that someday finally arrived. As you can see, the tile on the lower floor is not the same.  I think they complement one another.  I have hopes of having French doors installed right here at the intersection of flooring, but that will have to wait.  Maybe a throw rug at the junction of the two floors?  


The back room needed some additional work before we could call it done.  This is the area where the boila (hot water heater) is located.  Remember, this had been a porch before.  Now that the upstairs was closed in, the gas fumes gathered on the second floor when we lit it to heat water for a shower.  Not good.  So my husband installed an air outtake tube. I also ordered a carbon dioxide sensor to install upstairs, just to be on the safe side.  The boila still wasn’t pretty, so we asked carpenter Harvey to make a cancel (screen) to hide it from view.

The door also had to be altered to allow for the tile to fit underneath.  This entailed getting another power inverter since the previous one had fried.  With the power inverter and his handy-dandy tools, my husband fixed it right up.

Of course, the room was repainted too.  It really has a nice homey feel to it now!




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A bit of remodeling–Wood work

Our nearly ready bathroom needed a door.  Plus we never did get around to having a door installed for our bedroom downstairs.  We called our Harley driving carpenter for estimates. (He drives a Harley and his ringtone is Sweet Child o’Mine–not your typical Mexican in these here parts.)

Once the door estimates were agreed upon, we asked about a frame for that gaping hole that used to be an exterior window in the laundry room.  The price was acceptable, so we added it to the list.

I also wanted curtain rods and while we were at it, a towel rack for the bathroom. Measurements were taken.  Wood stains were discussed and agreed upon.

We also asked for an estimate on a handrail for the steps.  It was a bit pricey so we told him we’d have to wait on that, at least until the steps had tile on them.

A few weeks later, the order was ready and he and his ponytailed son came out with a generator.  Since he also owns lots in La Yacata he knows there isn’t any electricity here yet.

The generator was placed on the back porch.  It didn’t have any oil to run.  So a trip to town was made for the oil.  

My husband asked if he could use the generator as well.  A few weeks ago the power inverter that we used to run things from the truck battery burnt to a crisp.  As it served us more than 10 good years, it was only to be expected, but it left us without a way to run hand tools.  The carpenter was reluctant.  He had borrowed the generator from a friend.  My husband offered to pay for the gas it used.  Ok, then.  So while the carpenter installed the doors and his son installed the curtain rods, my husband drilled 4 holes.  Two for the shelf my son made last year in carpentry class and one for my picture of Pandora’s box. Everyone who sees it asks which saint is represented in the painting and look at me oddly when I tell them it’s Pandora.  I guess she isn’t on the Catholic calendar of saints.  The final hole was for the mirror in the bathroom.  More on that later.


When it came time to install the window, my husband wasn’t happy with the way it looked.  There was some tense testosterone discussion with the albañil (bricklayer) who built the house casting doubt on the quality of work done by the carpintero (carpenter) and the carpintero casting doubt on the quality of the work done by the albañil.  Finally, the carpintero caved and went home to get some more tools to modify the frame.

Yet another trip to town was undertaken when the son discovered he had forgotten to pack the bag of wall anchors.  This time the carpenter brought back drinks for everyone.


I was assigned to help the son while my husband appointed himself main carpenter helper.  I handed things up the ladder and moved the cord so the drills would reach.  Only in moving the cord, I knocked over the carpenter’s beer. AHHH! It’s thirsty work you know.  

Moments later I  knocked over the frame for the bathroom door.  I resigned my position of carpenter’s assistant’s helper and took a seat on the sidelines.

It was a particularly clumsy day for me all around. Earlier in the morning,  I had a spectacular fall in the bathroom while moving the mirror from the bathtub where my husband had placed it for safekeeping.  I missed the step and fell, knocking over and breaking the chair I had been using to wash the windows.  Much to my surprise, I did NOT break the mirror that I was clutching.  I did bang up my shoulder and both knees though.  And then there was the broken chair.


We asked if the carpenter could repair chairs.  He could.  We asked if he could refinish the table which was a wedding gift from my mom but had gotten banged up over the years.  He could.  I asked if he could make me a bench for my piano.  He could.  

I was delighted with the “new” dining room set, however, the chairs came back shorter than they were when they left, although now usable.  This meant new chairs had to be purchased.  This project has become WAY over budget.

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