Tuesday, August 31, 2010

31 August 2010

Celia left this morning, her month of cooking being done. It's a bit sad to see these workers leave. During the last weeks, we've shared a kitchen and so have gotten to know her a bit. She is Sanchez's sister so hopefully she will be back again so we can see her. She is off to her village to be with her family including five girls between the ages of 5 and 28!

The plumber and his crew were cleaning the pool when I got up this morning. They had the circulation pumps going and had added chemicals. The brushed and vacuumed the sides and bottom of the pool. It looks a bit more inviting this afternoon, as some of the algae bloom has disappeared. They were also installing the gutters for the run off at the far end of the pool. We also now have a ladder for easier access in and out. The water is 1.2 meters deep, and isn't really too bad for getting out of without the ladder; but this will be oh so much easier!

Direct TV has also been contracted to install cable TV. Once again, as a foreigner, I had to have someone co-sign the contract with me. Koki was generous enough to do so. I had to pay a $30 instalation fee. The Direct TV office gave me their bank information and I had to pay the fee directly into their account at the bank. The bank gave me a voucher which I then returned to the store to show the bill had been paid. I find it an interesting method of doing things...a lot of businesses don't collect money directly from customers. Even in the stores where they do, they have a cashier who takes the sales clerk's chit, charges your account and then gives you a voucher to take back to the salesperson. He then gathers your purchases together and takes it to the door where a security guard checks each item against the voucher. In some stores, like the electronic store, they will even record the serial number and the product code into a notebook as you leave. They are very security conscious.

Chino has now finished the floor of the BBQ pit. All that is left here is for the water to be hooked up to a faucet, and some kind of BBQ rack/apparatus. It is an interesting spot, ambience as they say here. The tiles are slight off at the steps, but the center lines up with the whole which could receive the post for a large umbrella if we chose.

The walkway between the front of the living room and the pool is cemented in and workers are waiting on the arrival of more tiles with Koki tomorrow. The stairs should also arrive tomorrow.

The carpenters have been here installing doors for the service building. Last I looked, they had installed all the doors there, also into the pantry/kitchen and the storage room. The only other wooden door I can think of right now is into the bathroom from the music room. I don't think that one is in yet. They will then have the stairs to deal with.

Haven't seen the glass guys; but they want to come in after carpenters to do the windows in the service building and the railings for the stairs and lofts.

Truly, the only things left are little things. And there are a lot of little things, but we should be able to get these things done in a short time. Hard to believe, after nine months we are just about there.

I didn't work at all on the mural today. The next animal will be the tortoise, and my design for him just wasn't coming together well. I read for a while, took a nap, and then revisited the tortoise. I have the colors chosen, but not the specific design. I've learned a lot from the mural so far...1. you don't have to have % coverage of paint. Having a little of the white background can work for you. 2. generally colors applied on the fly rather than ones that have been thought out, don't work. 3. A lot of color mixing happens on the wall. 4. Do the background first. I was too anxious to get started to do the background. It will now be infinitely more difficult....The price for impatience. 5. Ladders in Peru aren't nearly as sturdy as those in the States. The rungs on this one are one by two's, with the one inch side as the top of the step. It is, however, a step up from the bamboo ladder the crew constructed and I first used. 6. Murals are works in progress. You learn as you go; you figure out design flaws as you go. For example, the parts of the mural I am the most excited about are the ones that have a realistic shape and color; but also have folk art designs encorporated into them. When you see the marlin, you know it is a marlin....the first fish I did is just a stylized fish. I'm hoping I see something close to it in the market so I say it is a specific kind of fish!

Doug leaves the states tonight and will be in Lima in the morning. He will then travel by bus up north and be here by Thursday morning. It has been a long three plus weeks that he's been gone. Unfortunately, he missed a lot of the final decisions around the house here, so he will have to live with I've decided. Meanwhile, I am glad he has had this opportunity to spend with both of his parents. He's had some good quality time with his family in these last few weeks.

Monday, August 30, 2010

30 August 2010

It has been so tranqil with only three workers here. Chino has been working on laying the tile in the BBQ pit. José has been doing the concrete work necessary to extend the terrace in front of the living room out to the pool. Freddy has been doing the grunt work; carrying the cement from the mixer to the site, and doing general clean up.

Celia informed me today that she would be going into town with me in the morning so she could travel to her home village. She has only been here a short month, but she has been so sweet. She made me a plate of ceviche today for lunch which has to be the best ceviche I have ever had. I baked a couple of loaves of banana bread today and gave Celia, Juana and Sanchez one of the loaves. I will miss her, even though I don´t feel I have the same connection with her as I do with Juana.

I spent much of the day working on the mural. I had designed the marlin last night and was anxious to put it up today. I really like the fact that the overall
shape was realistic, but the interior colors and design were stylized. I wasn´t 100% satisfied with the colors, but the more I look at it, the better I like it. I´m hoping to work on the tortoise tomorrow. This has been a fun project; especially for someone who ¨has no artistic talents!¨ Not bad for a left brained thinking individual!

Doug will be traveling to Lima tomorrow night arriving sometime in the early morning of the 1st of September. He will then travel north by bus and be here on the 2nd. I am sooo looking forward to his being here; although there is a tad bit of apprehension because I´ve been making decisions around the construction without him. I can only hope he will concur with my decisions.

The plumber and the carpenters of the roof will arrive tomorrow morning. I am so glad the plumber will be here, as he is t0 arrive with chemicals, and ladders for the pool. I swam in it the first night it was full. Since then it has looked like lime green jello. The algae will hopefully disappear with the chemicals and I can once again swim in my pool.

Stormy and the kitten had another run in today. The kitten decided to go outside and then was caught by Stormy. Escot, Sanchez´s dog was in on it too, although, his heart wasn´t in it. I give kudos to the kitten, in that she held her own before I could physically pull Stormy off. However, it literally scared the shit out of her. I still can´t quite figure out whether Stormy wants to eat the cat or just play with her. So far they have both survived their encounters. Time and patience will tell.

I´ve discovered Sudoku on line. It has consumed a great deal of my time. My daughter tells me it is good to engage the mind and keep it active in my old age. I do enjoy it, but it does seem to override other things.
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Sunday, August 29, 2010

29 August 2010W

Workers are going to extend the terrace in front of the living room over to the pool deck. They started to extend only the middle two patterns of the tile, but I asked them to extend it the full length. I think it will look less chopped up this way. The reason they didn't plan it this way was because they didn't have enough tile. Now they will order more tile and it will be a smooth transition from the terrace of the living room to the pool deck.

Chino began laying the tile for the BBQ pit today. He changed the orientation of the tiles so the central point would work for an umbrella. His work is incredible.... meticulous and thoughtful.

Freddy has been doing a lot of clean up. He has been removing construction detritus from various areas and moving it off somewhere. A large truck was here yesterday to haul off the garbage. A lot of it was loaded, but there still is a significant amount here yet to go. There is still a lot of clean up that needs to happen...I never realized how messy construction could be. The crew has been quite good at cleaning up as they work; but oh so much garbage and trash has been generated.

I've been working on the mural for the wall in the entry way. I've finished parts, but have a lot of wall to go. This afternoon I was in my studio designing elements for the wall. I'm really excited as things come together. I am a bit concerned about the background.....I almost wished the painters had painted the wall the sand color that the rest of the house is painted. I think this should have happened first....but it didn't. Ultimately, what this means is that the mural will come together bit by bit; and the background will have to be done at the end. I suspect most artists would cringe at this; the background should have been done first......Ah the joys of inexperience!!

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

28 August 2010

Really? The end of August already? OMG!

I spent most of my day painting the mural on the wall at our entry. As I work on it, both at the wall and in my studio, it gets more complex all the time. I am really liking the design though, so I only hope it comes through as it gets painted. Today I finished one fish, part of two crabs and another fish. I need to discipline myself to try out the colors in the studio before I try to put them on the wall. So far, mixing the colors hasn't been an issue. I'm somewhat limited in t he red, blue and yellow I can find so will have to do with what I have.

Some of the sliding glass doors now have screens. These have been tricky as they have not wanted to put tracks above the level of the tile. The doors close nicely, but the tolerance is slight. The tracks only hold the bottom of each door by an inch at most. I'm thinking they need a magnet to hold the doors closed..
will a magnet work on aluminum?

The pool was so beautiful this morning. It is full to the brim, which is the idea. The sun was glistening off the water and it looked so inviting. However, it appears that some algae has taken hold as it had the color of lime jello this morning. I think I will wait until the chemicals arrive and the recirculation is active before I swim again.

Chino worked on smoothing out the floor of the BBQ pit so he can lay tiles in there tomorrow. He also worked on making the cabinets and sinks for the laundry room today. It took me a while to realize what he was doing.... He was down where the camp was making cement slabs with rebar running through them. He would then carry these up to the laundry room and these became the sides of the cabinets. Freddy worked on clean up most of the day. He has been scraping the garden areas and clearing them of debris. He seems to be the grunt of the three though, as Chino would ask him to bring him cement and mortar when he was ready for it. José worked on finishing cement: the far end of the pool, the stairs coming up from the parking area, etc. It seems so quiet here with only the three workers.

Juana is back! Sanchez's wife took the month of August off to go visit her family somewhere in the back hills of Peru. She had been doing all the cooking for the workers; sometimes cooking for upwards of 30 in a teeny tiny camp kitchen. She was amazing..she worked her little but off. I had asked her to come work for us in the house; not as a cook but to help me clean and maintain things. She agreed quite readily, and we feel blessed to have her. We still haven't negotiated a salary for her but I don't think she plans on officially starting until the 1st of September. However, her first day back she was in the kitchen helping Celia and began sweeping and cleaning. What a gem! When I first saw her, she raised her arms for a big hug and told me she had missed me. I've enjoyed Celia but I have to say, I've missed Juana too. She has the most precious laugh I've ever heard; so totally filled with the joy of life.

I had a great tuna filete tonight. I marinated it in garlic, onion, olive oil, lime juice and soy sauce. Then I used the marinate in the hot skillet to sear the tuna. Such good stuff. So many people just think of tuna as the stuff that comes out of the can... and it is so much more. The fresh fish doesn't even taste like the stuff in the can!

Still missing my hubby. He should be back next week...can't wait.
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Friday, August 27, 2010

27 August 2010

I went for a swim in my swimming pool tonight. The last truck load came just after 6:00pm. This was the larger truck from El Alto and it was supposed to complete the filling of the pool. The pool only lacks an inch of water to be totally full. I didn’t care though. I still went swimming. I couldn’t even wait until the truck had finished dumping the water in. I did one length and banged into the far wall (it was dark, mind you.) Even so, I came up with a “WooHoo!” I did a couple more lengths and looked up and saw the workers, and truck attendants watching; that only made the whole thing better. How does one describe the realization of a childhood dream? I’ve been told I was swimming before I could walk. My parents would take us to the club. They would go off to play their tennis and leave us at the pool with the nanny. I’ve always loved to swim; competed since I was old enough to participate until I was classified as a senior. I’ve loved the long distances more so than the sprints. Most pools are not long enough to do laps in, which has always frustrated me. To me, swimming is swimming a distance and now I can do it in my very own pool. How excellent is that?
I also bought a ladder (?) and some paint at the hardware store this morning so I could begin to paint my mural. I question the ladder as it is only a step up from what the workers made here. The rungs are made from 1 X 2’s and there is no cross brace to hold the ladder at a certain angle. As it turned out, maybe that was a good thing as I needed to situate the ladder over the stairs next to the wall. I was able to finish sketching out the mural this afternoon.
I bought five colors; red, blue, yellow, white and black. I filled five small pop bottles with each color. I also bought a bunch of small plastic cups to mix the colors in. I am hoping to maintain some really bright colors for the mural…it will be interesting to see what I can come up with. I only got some of the two fish done today. I need to be patient and take my time with this project. I’d really like it to turn out well. Sometimes the image in my head far exceeds what I can do in reality!
Another truck load of water arrived as I was blogging. This cistern of water will put the pool “over the edge.” This is a good thing, as the overflow will fill the recirculation tank and all will be ready to function as intended. Sanchez has also asked for a bit of water; no problem as far as we are concerned. Sanchez more than earns any perks we can give him. He technically works for Georg as the guardian for the property. However, he is often here helping me out. His wife, Juana, has agreed to become our housekeeper. I am so thankful for this…she is a treasure. She returned from her vacation with her family yesterday. Today she was cleaning house for me without my asking or any kind of contract for her work. I can’t express how appreciative I am of her willingness to help us maintain the house.
Stormy and the kitten maintain their enmity. I can’t quite decide whether Stormy wants to play or wants to eat the cat. I had the kitten on my shoulder today; and for the first time, Stormy decided to get the cat while I had her in my possession. The cat, of course, spit and struck out… but the recipient was me! I’m not sure what else I can do to resolve the conflict between cat and dog. I’m trying to give the cat more outside time but that means she needs to fend for herself against the dog. Stormy hasn’t had any more bloody noses, but she hasn’t let up as far as going after the cat! It seems I am the one with the bloody hands as I am the one holding the kitten when she decides to hiss, spit and strike out.
The flies have been terrible lately. It seems like they come in waves. Sometimes they are terrible and then they seem to disappear. Lately, they have been terrible. I have resorted to fly spray to kill them, which ultimately is a temporary fix. The window guys that have been making the screens have been making progress in terms of enclosing each living space. Once they complete their work, and the carpenter finishes installing the doors, I’m hoping things will be much better. Meanwhile, I am consuming a can of fly insecticide every couple of days. I know it is not very eco-friendly, but at the same time, you want the flies gone!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

25 August 2010

This morning’s grocery run was a busy one. I stopped at the laundry to drop off a couple of loads. Then I went on to the grocery store. Since it was market day, they were shorthanded in the stall. Other workers were at the drop off area on the PanAmerican Hwy where supplies come in on Wednesdays. We stopped at the hardware store and then went out to the market drop off area.
Koki had ordered some wood for the deck, and it was to come in on the truck. When we got there, we found it was indeed on the truck but at the bottom and it would take them at least an hour to unload everything else to get to it. We didn’t wait around, and planned on returning later for the wood.
We then went out to the entrance to Vichayito to drop off garbage. We don’t have garbage pick up out this far from El Ñuro, so we have to bring it into town. Sometimes I can catch one of the garbage carts in town. If I have to stop for fuel, I will drop it at the gas station. Otherwise, I’ll drive out to the entrance to Vichayito where there are depositories along the side of the road for garbage. The only recycling collection I know of is on that road as well. There’s a bin for plastic and a bin for glass.
We also stopped at the bus station (which is also our “post office”) and picked up a catalogue for windows and glass products. Another American, from Ohio, is building a home closer to El Ñuro and he had asked for information from our “glass” guy. We dropped the catalogue off at his home on our way by. It gave me a chance to introduce Koki to Ricardo who is the building contractor and a brother to the developer.
Back at the house, I began sketching out the mural on the wall at the entry. I have a basic plan drawn out in a sketch book, and was trying to transfer those drawings onto the wall. I was able to sketch out a bit less than half of the wall today. The top part of the wall is 8 feet high. As the steps go down, the wall gets taller. I think it is about 11 feet at the bottom. So far I like what I’ve done; will start painting it later in the week and hopefully won’t foul it up. I guess it is just a wall, so I can paint over the top of everything if it doesn’t work out.
We had three loads of water come today. With two more loads, the pool will be full. At that point the plumber will return with stairs to get in and out of the pool, the chemicals and accessories we will need to maintain it. All the workers are getting a big kick out of how excited I am to see this pool filling up. It has to be amazing to them as well….I wonder how many pools this size they have ever seen or worked on. Maybe they just want to see what a gringa will do in such a pool!
Late this afternoon, the generator unexpectedly shut down. I was outside working on the mural so didn’t realize anything was amiss until I walked into the kitchen and it was quite dark. Celia said, there are no lights. The workers told me that a problem came up when they were using a chop saw to cut the aluminum for the screens. Thank goodness Koki was here as he took charge, investigated the problem and restarted the generator. I had gone down to play the piano; mostly to stay out of their way, but also to occupy my mind while they were figuring out this problem. After the lights came back on, Koki brought me an extension cord I had bought in Talara just last week to extend the cord for the light on my loom. Every few inches along the extension cord, the cord showed burnt marks and the interior wires were showing through. This was the problem. The extension cord was not heavy enough to carry the load. I had actually wondered about how light weight the extension cord was, but I figured the store clerk wouldn’t sell me something that wouldn’t work with 220 for a small lamp fixture. OK, lesson learned. Koki said he would send me four or five extension cords to use around the house….ones that wouldn’t short everything out!
I took Koki to Mancora tonight so he could catch his bus home. No sooner had I returned home and another worker needed a ride into Los Organos to catch a bus to Chiclayo. I was told the moto-taxi driver wasn’t answering his phone, so they couldn’t arrange transportation. I don’t actually mind driving them as it gives me an opportunity to get to know each one a little bit. Now that my Spanish is better, I’m more comfortable trying to carry on a conversation. It used to be totally silent all the way into town. Within this last week or so, the workers have really warmed up to me. I think they realize that my hesitancy to interact has been because of the language, and they are very forgiving of my inadequacy with the language. They don’t want to correct me though, so I have to ask if what I’ve said is correct.
The workers still have to work around me, as I have to move about around them. I try not to get in their way and to let them know, they have priority as they need to finish things up. They have all been very gracious and also somewhat protective of me. I’ve invited most of them to return with their families once the construction is completed so they can enjoy the fruits of their labor and a vacation at the beach. It’s hard to know how many of them will actually come back to visit, but I hope many of them will. One of our hopes in building this home is that many people will chose to come visit.
Chino is such a perfectionist when it comes to his work. This BBQ pit has been his project from the beginning. Each wall is built with bricks and mortar. He then puts a rough finish of concrete over the bricks. Finally he puts a very clean, very smooth finish of concrete.

I'm sorry you can't see the sketching on the wall. But at least you can appreciate the ladder I am using. It works, but I'm not sure how much confidence I have in it. As I move further down the wall, it may become more of an issue for me.

Only two more truckloads of water and the pool will be full. Maybe I'll get to swim in it tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

24 August 2010

I woke up at dawn and laid in bed watching the sunrise. It was truly beautiful and my vantage point was perfect. I then rolled over to sleep a bit more, but the Chairman was not having any of it. She figured since I'd awakened, it was time to play. She was wild and so I put her outside; then she proceeded to meow ceaselessly. I brought her back in, played a little bit and then tucked her under the covers and she settled in enough for me to get a little bit more sleep.

Koki arrived early in the morning. We spent about an hour going over all the work that still needed to be finished. We then went into town to do the daily shopping and pick up some items from the hardware store.

I fixed a shrimp chowder for lunch, which Koki and I enjoyed along with a few beers. We sat at the dining room table for a couple of hours talking (all in Spanish!). I felt much better after talking with Koki about how everything was going to get done in the next two weeks. There will be three workers here all week. The glass guys are here and are working on putting in the screens. The carpenter with the stairs will be here either Friday or Saturday. Once the stairs are installed, the glass guys can finish putting in their railings. Next week, there will only be one worker here, and he will finish up whatever needs to be done and to make all the final repairs. China has been with us from the beginning, so it is only fitting that he is here to the very end.
The glass guys did install the glass doors at pool level into the outside bathroom and storage room. Some kind of decal will be put over the glass on these doors so they are opaque. Seems to me it would have been better to use opaque glass in the first place, but...that's not how it is done here.

Chemo and his assistants continued work on the pool deck today. It looks so much better now that the gaps between each board is a 1/4". I didn't think it would make that much of a difference but it truly is a huge improvement. He will also redo the deck in the master bathroom. I've already dropped several items down between the gaps, so I'm looking forward to the fix. He will also correct errors in the roof line, gaps between the boards at the apex of the roof in the front and back, and plug the gaps at the corners.

The BBQ pit is truly going to be a BBQ area. It is a large round circle sunk into the ground with seating around the circumference. The is one section that will have a sink, a BBQ grill and a countertop. The center floor will be tiled with
the same tile as all of the outside terraces.

The entry way is looking really good as well. The wall you see is where I plan on putting my mural. Koki doesn't want to do anything further with this wall so the mural can be showcased. I hope my artwork is worthy of the display! It's a lot of wall to cover. At the top it is 8 feet high. Each of the three sections is 9 feet wide. I have a general plan, but that is still a lot of wall.

The painters left today, having finished their work. They were very meticulous and things really look nice. I haven't seen any where they got sloppy or accidentally went beyond the boundaries of where the paint was supposed to be. They were also extremely careful to cover the floor, sidewalks, etc. so they didn't drip on anything.

The service zone is close to being finished as well. They lack windows, doors, and bathroom fixtures. The laundry room will be fitted with two large cement sinks, a countertop and a space for the washer. The washer we bought in Lima, arrived with considerable damage. It looks like it was dropped off a truck and is totally bent out of shape. The manufacturer is sending someone to inspect the damage, and then we'll see what will happen next. I'm really tired of taking stuff to the laundry in town. It seems like they are taking longer and longer to wash, dry and iron a load. I'll be glad when I can do it myself.

We were still without water this afternoon at 5:00. It was supposed to come yesterday afternoon...but I've learned never to count on deliveries. We need to come up with a system that warns us when the water level is low, so we can order more and still have enough for a couple of days. At about 7:00 a truck arrived. This was a different supplier than we've been using. He's a bit more expensive, but since he isn't government subsidized, he will have less restrictions on who he can deliver water to. He has two trucks; one of equal capacity as the El Ñuro truck and one that is half again as big. We have contracted with him to supply us with enough water for the pool. Supposedly tomorrow, he will bring three loads of water; two in the large truck and one in the smaller truck. I don´t know if this will fill the pool, but it will help us get it filled.

Just as Koki and I were leaving for dinner after the water delivery, the El Ñuro truck arrived to deliver water. This load went into the swimming pool since we had just filled the cistern and tanks. I´m looking forward to seeing how much water gets into the pool by the end of tomorrow.

I was also able to play the piano for about a half hour today. It was really a lot of fun. I first played the one song I´ve composed, which changes everytime I sit down to play. It has a certain chord progression which I follow, but the melody changes and the beat changes each time. Then I pulled out some music and played from it. It´s been such a long time since I´ve played these pieces sounded pretty rusty. Even so, I didn´t care. I was enjoying playing; and enjoyed playing knowing that Koki and Celia, in the kitchen were listening. Hoorah, maybe I am finally at a point where I want to share what music I am able to make!

Sunday, August 22, 2010


It was a quiet day around here. The painters were up and working by 8:00, but they are quiet and just go about their business. You don't even realize they are here most of the time. They are doing a meticulous job; things are really looking nice.

I decided since I had had a few days in a row of feeling low, that today I would relax and work on some of my fiber projects. And, of course, I have just a few going on right now. I have placemats on the loom. I have a sweater down to the front edging and buttons for Mandy. I have a baby sweater just needing buttons, and another baby gift to think about. Besides those, there are others that have been on the back burner for a while; a needlepoint pillow and a quilting project. I could probably name a few other things in the works, but don't see how that will be productive. I know I have a problem finishing things. Maybe it's because I have a short attention span after the newnesss of the project wears off, or I just get so many ideas into my head, I can't wait to get new ones started.

Stormy and the Chairman went at it again in the kitchen this morning. Stormy was able to get a hold of the kitten a couple of times before Chairman was able to get behind the refrigerator. These encounters only seem to fuel Stormy's obsession. The Chairman stayed behind the refrigerator for a couple of hours before I was able to coax her out. I've kept them separate the rest of the day and finally dug out one of Stormy's squeaky toys for her to play with. At least for the time being, she isn't obsessing on the kitten.

We ran out of water in the kitchen tonight as Celia was preparing dinner for the painters. Sanchez came to tell me about the problem. It seemed really odd because there was water in the bathroom downstairs and in the master bathroom. All of the valves were open, so I couldn't figure out why just the kitchen would be out. Sanchez climbed up the ladder to the water tanks and found they were empty. There was just a tad of water in the cistern. We couldn't get the pump to work though, so we couldn't get water up to the tanks. It turns out there is a device on the pump that sits on the surface of the water. If there is sufficient water in the cistern, then the pump automatically turns on and pumps until the tanks are full. When the water level gets too low in the cistern, then the devise shuts off the pump so it won't be just pumping air. We now have a call in for the water truck who hopefully will deliver water sometime tomorrow afternoon. Meanwhile, I will have to haul some water from town in the morning.

Chemo, the first carpenter on the job here, returned this afternoon with a helper and some more wood. He is going to redo the deck around the pool and in the master bathroom. The deck is beautiful, except the spaces between the boards averages an inch or better. This makes it a bit uncomfortable to walk on, and impossible to keep things from falling down between the cracks. I told him the spaces should be no more than a quarter of an inch. I found a piece of broken tile whose thickness was about 1/4" and gave him that to use as a gauge. He and his helper already have about ten feet of the deck redone and it looks sooooo much better. He did tell me though that he did not bring enough wood. He had figured on reducing the spaces to about 3/8th of an inch.

Earlier this afternoon, I was in the kitchen cleaning construction dust out of the drawers with the vacuum cleaner. Celia was working on lunch for the workers and didn't say anything until I was done. Then she looked at me and said, "That's for cleaning, huh?" I don't think she'd seen a vacuum cleaner before, so I showed he how it worked. One of the things we've always liked about the Peruvian people, is they seem to live a simple life. Sometimes we forget exactly how simple that live really is. They're good people; we've been so fortunate to have Sanchez, his wife, Juana and Celia around.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

21 August 2010

When I got up this morning, workers were dismantling the camp. It was a bit sad to realize I would be saying good bye to some of them today. Two that would be leaving have been here since we broke ground in December.
The first problem arose for the cook. The kitchen was being dismantled as well. Sanchez wanted to know where I wanted Celia to cook. The workers had set up a bench on the sidewalk outside of the kitchen with the cooking supplies, but I couldn’t imagine her working out there. I told her to use my kitchen. It certainly is big enough and I can easily work around her schedule. As I left for the morning run, Sanchez and Celia were moving into my kitchen.
Wow! I felt like a native! I was standing on the street waiting for the store clerk when a Peruvian woman approached me and asked where a particular hardware store was. Not only did I understand what she said to me, but I was able to answer her and point her in the right direction. It surprised me that she would choose me to ask.
As Celia was preparing lunch for the crew, I worked some more on getting the master bed set up. It has an air mattress which was deflated during the move. It comes with an air pump so you can pump in just the right amount of air for your liking. The problem is its run from 110. It tried the usual travel converter plugs put the pump was pulling too many watts. Fortunately, I bought a small transformer that functioned perfectly.
As I was doing this, Sanchez came and knocked on the door. He told me something was wrong with the stove. Yikes! Another crisis to handle. Sanches took me into the kitchen and showed me that sometimes the stove would light even though he hadn’t put the match to it. And, it made a clicking noise. I think he thought it might blow up. I assured him that everything was fine and it was meant to start with the spark from the little gadget making the clicking noise. I demonstrated. He tried it. He tried the next burner with the same result. He tried each and every one of the burners, looked at me and said really? He then got this huge grin on his face it was the coolest thing ever! Sanchez, nor Celia, had ever worked with a stove that lit itself. I told them it was new to me too; though only new because I’ve always had an electric stove.
Soon after lunch, the workers piled into the pickup and I took them to Los Organos so they could catch their bus. Some will be back on Monday; some won’t ever be back to work. Since the camp is now gone, they will be camping out in the storage room, the solar battery room, and maid’s quarters. The only workers staying over the weekend are the painters.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

20th August

I was sitting in my studio when I looked up and saw this first picture. These are the painters who are painting the eves of the buildings. There are scaffolds around in abundance, yet how they put things together to get access to what they need to work on is a study in amazement. Can you imagine what OSHA would have to say?

Today was a much more productive day. I cleaned the living room, music room, dining room and studio with the vacuum cleaner. Even though I swept before vacuuming, there was a bunch of dust collected. I set up the stereo and listened to a couple of Paul McCartney CD's as I cleaned out the piano. It was really nice to listen to music of my choice..not just what was playing.
The piano room is all set up, although I still need someone to help me put the lid on the piano. I'm hoping this will help keep the dust down. Any one of these workers would help me so all I need to do is ask.

Stormy and the Charman have had their stand-0ffs today. Neither one seems to have the upper hand at this point, but St0rmy has been called off a couple of times. It seems that if the Chairmam has a position of defense, then Stormy only barks and whines at it This afternoon, they went nose to nose again. The Chairman was safely behind the front of the table loom while Stormy kept barking and lunging at her position. Stormy finally retreated. Right now, Stormy is outside and the Chairman is climbing my back looking for a spot to repose.

I also composed a note to Koki tonight expressing my frustration with how things are progressing. Twice in the last week, the workers have come to me saying they do not have enough materials to continue working. I've ended up buying materials so the workers can continue. Obviously, this should be Koki's responsibility to have the materials here for the workers.

Oh, so frustrating.... and, in the end, will we have the house we contracted to have? That is indeed the big question.

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19 August 2010

Hopefully, the fourth time is the charm today. I have written and tried to post the blog for the day three times already. The internet connection keeps dropping off and everything gets lost in the ether-world.
I woke up this morning feeling rather depressed. Even though I had a long nap yesterday afternoon, I still slept through the night and didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. I really tired. I’m tired of trying to understand what people are saying to me. My Spanish isn’t too bad, but try as I do, there are some people I don’t understand no matter how many times I say “huh?” I’m tired of all the dust that gets into everything and accumulates daily. I’m tired of the construction and all the delays. I’m tired of the foreman coming to me to tell me they don’t have enough materials to continue to work. I’m tired of making the morning run for groceries and coming back to find the workers also need something from town. I’m tired of keeping the dog from killing the cat. I’m tired of the flies that can be relentless at times.

Ramon told me he needed 28 bags of concrete to continue working this morning. He had tried to call Koki, but Koki was not answering his calls. I told Ramon I would get some in Los Organos so they could keep going. On the way into town, Koki did call me to say he would phone ahead to the Ferreteria and pay for the cement over the internet. So, I spent most of the morning hauling cement. It’s this kind of lack of planning that gets really frustrating over time.

Yesterday I saw pod of whales traveling south. They were about 300 meters off shore. I spotted them when I noticed a big blow; a big spray of water that then drifted in the wind. Then I saw the dorsal fins surface and disappear. On occasion one would playfully slap his tail and make a splash. Others seemed like they were spiraling as they were swimming as they would slap the water with their flippers, first on one side, then the other. At one point, one came up out of the water, about 2/3rds of his body length, and then crashed over on his side and made a huge splash.

I went to Talara this afternoon. There were three things I wanted to get: a vacuum cleaner, a muzzle and a pad to go under the rug. There was very little selection for the vacuum cleaner; maybe three different models in any one store and each store had pretty much the same as their competitors. They were small and looked like toys compared to the ones we are used to using in our homes in North America. I bought the one with the most power, and hope it will hold up.

The vet’s office was closed. I thought they might be closed for the siesta noon break, but he was still closed when I stopped by later in the afternoon. I found a few pet items in one store, but no muzzle. Stormy gets a reprieve!

The carpet pad was also not to be found. I thought I had seen some very thick heavy felt like material in the market when we were there before. I didn’t see anything like it as I was looking through the stall and the attendant thought I was crazy when I tried to tell him what I was looking for. I told him thick and soft and demonstrated a quarter of an inch with my fingers. He brought me some very heavy canvas material, then some fleece, and finally something quilted. Oh well, I will have to keep looking and buy it when I see it!

I did, however, purchase a stereo. I came across the box with all our music tapes. It has been a long time since I’ve listened to any of my music! I’m looking forward to listening to something other than Salsa. I like Salsa, but after a while it all sounds the same.

Once back at the house late in the afternoon, I decided to “work” a little bit at the loom. As I was getting situated, I accidentally stepped on the kitten. The Chairman let out a yowl. Don’t feel too sorry for her, she nailed me! I have two puncture wounds on one side of my heel and several scratches on the other side. As I was nursing my injuries, and feeling the stinging pain, I began to think the Chairman could fend for herself quite well. This revelation began to develop in my mind…..

I brought Stormy into the studio with the cat. I had Stormy sit and then waited to see what would happen. It wasn’t long before the chase was on. Cones of yarn sitting on the steps went flying as they went up and then back down the steps. The Chairman soon found a spot behind some bins and a shelf where Stormy couldn’t get into. Stormy began barking, the kitten was hissing and growling. Stormy stuck her nose in the gap and Chairman swatted away. This went on for several minutes. Stormy received a few good scratches across the nose, but these didn’t seem to really faze her. When blood started getting smeared on the bins of yarn, I pulled Stormy away and put her back outside. The Chairman’s little heart was pounding away and her fur was standing straight up on end. It took her a while to calm down, but she sure was snuggly for a while!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

17 August 2010

I started the day hoping to get the master bedroom set up. We have the headboard connected to the footboard of our sleigh bed. I also have the framework for the sleep comfort air bed assembled. However, we must be missing whatever mechanism puts the two together. I think I will ask Chino to make me some slats to fit in the bed frame to put the air bed frame on. Then I think the rest will fall into place.
There is very little else to move into the house. I realised my studio was not going to be big enough for all of my sewing and weaving stuff, so have planned to move the sewing into the battery room for the solar panels. The batteries will not take up that much space so I can dedicate the rest for sewing. Right now there are a couple of workers camped out in that room, so I've just set those boxes aside.
We didn't bring that much stuff from Oregon, so moving in has been relatively easy. I'm hoping to find some bookshelves which will complete what we need for furniture. We have a local carpenter building some outdoor furniture for us; tables, chairs and lounge chairs for the pool. I think I will ask him to build us some bookshelves as well.
Much of the work being done around the house right now is little stuff. Tile has been installed above the sinks in the bungalows and the walls have been prepared for mirrors. Chips in the cement in various spots have been repaired. The grouting has been completed for the glass blocks in the master bath. The grouting throughout the house has also been sealed. Tiles have been laid in the entry...we have a reception area and then stairs down to the parking area. We chose to have a patterned tile cascade down the steps; the pattern continuous for the rise and the step itself down the length of the stairs. These are being laid and it is looking really cool.
The wall along the south side of the entry is also in place and smoothed. It lacks a coat of paint and then I can put my mural up. My daughter, Mandy, tried to convince me to do the mural as a mosaic, but I just don't think I have the resources to provide me with the variation in colors I am looking for. I think I will paint it for now, and if I can find sufficient material to do the mosaic, I can always add it later. The mural I have planned consists of various fish, plant life, and shells we find here. The shapes will be realistic, but I want to make geometric and abstract designs within the shapes. It's a rather brave undertaking, but the worst that can happen is I paint over it all and leave it blank.
I am not sure the kitten is going to survive Stormy. For the last week, I have orchestrated things so neither one is in the same room at the same time. When the kitten is in the studio, and Stormy is outside, she is barking, lunging and the windows and so intent on getting to the cat it is scary. Her intensity is amazing...and it hasn't let up at all. At night I have put Stormy in her kennel and let the kitten cuddle with me. However, this afternoon when I took the kitten up to the bungalow and put her down on the floor ready to close the door, Stormy stormed in (forgive the pun) and was on the kitten in an instant. I pulled her off, and all is o.k., but I'm not sure she will ever chill out when it comes to the kitten!
After working on the master bed, I worked on a project I began designing last night. It seems that we didn't pack any placemats or tablecloths for the dining room table. So, I have been designing some placemats to weave on the loom. I now have the project threaded on the loom and will begin the weaving tomorrow.
I need to leave Peru in the next week. My visa expires on the 28th of August. Basically all this means is that I need to leave Peru and then return to renew the visa for another 3 months. The easiest way for me to do this is to take the bus to Ecuador and then return. We do have someone working on obtaining a resident visa for us. This would mean that we could stay in Peru indefinitely; take advantages of being Peruvian citizens, but maintain our American citizenship.
Doug is in the states visiting with his family. I don't really feel alone here as there are always several workers on the property. They have been quite protective of me, which is really nice. Even so, I am anxious to have Doug return and for us to move forward in our home together.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

14 August 2010

I wasn't as productive today, but a lot still happened. Living in a home where construction is still going on presents its challenges! It is incredibly dusty and next to impossible to keep things clean. I've been dusting and sweeping daily but everything is covered again within hours. I think I'll just focus on the areas I am living in; the bungalow, the studio and the kitchen and try to keep these room relatively clean. Everything else will have to wait and get a deep cleaning once the dust settles; literally! Another challenge is adjusting to the workers' timing. They generally start by 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning and work until 1:00 in the afternoon. They take an hour, hour and a half for lunch, and then often work until dark. As many of you know, I like to sleep in and am not an early riser. It might surprise you to know I have been watching every sunrise since I've moved into the bungalow. It comes up around 6:30 and is so beautiful to watch as it unfolds out over the ocean. Of course, I generally go back to sleep for a couple of hours before actually getting up. I try to work around the house without interfering in the workers work. Their work takes
priority. Even so, sometimes I don't feel like I have my own space; even in my own home. The workers are all very gracious and respectful, so it isn't an uncomfortable situation. Besides, I can go for a walk on the beach anytime and be alone!

Chairman Meow is still doing quite well. Stormy still thinks she is food and is very intent on the kitten no matter where she is. Stormy will stand outside the windows and bark, whine and stare at every tiny movement the kitten makes. Sometimes she lunges at the kitten only to find the window in the way. I've had to keep them separate; even the workers now know the routine. I can keep the kitten with me in the studio or in the third bungalow so Stormy does not have access. I can put Stormy in a bungalow to contain her while the kitten is out and about. I tried to have the kitten sleep with me the other night. When I went to bed, she was so sacked out, we both fell asleep. At some point during the middle of the night the kitten decided to explore, or eat, or drink...who knows. The next thing I knew Stormy was barking, the kitten was hissing and I was scrambling around in the dark trying to get a hold of one or the other. It was a rather rude awakening! Tonight I have the dog kennel, (the one Stormy traveled here in) set up in the bungalow. I'll put her to bed there, and then the kitten can have free range. Wish me luck for a good night sleep!

Much of the outdoor tiling was done today. The entry patio is done as is the terrace in front of the first bungalow. (We've designated the bungalows in order from closest to the house out, which isn't the same order in which they were built!) They still have the stairs going down to the parking area to do.

Two large water tanks were installed at the back of our property. These will recycle pool water for irrigation of our garden. From what we've been able to research, it appears that Chlorine chemicals will dissipate and evaporate out of the water so once it sits for a couple of days, there isn't enough chlorine content to harm any plants.

As I started this blog tonight, I was typing away and heard water gushing...as I went to investigate, the plumber was putting water in the pool and checking out the pumps. Soon thereafter, the water truck came with its first load for the pool. What an amazing feeling to see this lap pool come to fruition. It has always been a dream of mine to have a lap pool at my home. It's so amazing! Yet, on the other hand, I can't help think about how precious water is here in Peru. The people living in the village of El Ñuro don't have running water. Their potable water is delivered by the same truck that delivers ours. The only difference is that they have a 30 or 40 gallon drum into which their water goes. One truck delivers water to most of the townspeople. When we get water, we take a whole truck load. And, in the case of this swimming pool, we are taking 10 full loads of water. At times it seems really obsessive, obscene and bold! No way can we live a low profile life here.

I played piano today...oh so soothing. I've never been much to play in front of people, but I find myself really enjoying playing within earshot of the workers. A few comment, most don't. I can only imagine what goes on in their mind as they see this house come together.

I finally met with Charapo, a local carpenter, while at the market this morning. We had asked him to build us some tables and chairs, and some lounge chairs for around the pool. We had initially met with him a couple of months ago, and had assumed (yes, an ass out of u and me) he would go with our request. He worked up an estimate for us, and we've had difficulty meeting up with each other to approve or modify the estimate. As it turned out, his price is more than fair and I gave him the go ahead today. We will look to buy the wood next Monday. It will then need to dry out, and then he will go to work and get the furniture done.

Friday, August 13, 2010

13 August 2010

Today is our 16th anniversary. I reflect back to where we were 16 years ago to where we are now and am so amazed. Our friendship and love for each other has carried us through many adventures. We look forward to many more years in Peru in our new home.

I spent much of today sorting through boxes and situating them in the appropriate places. The studio is pretty well set up, although I'll need to find some kind of bookshelf and file box. The piano is cleaned and playable; I spent quite a bit of time playing this afternoon. I still need to put the lid on; which will help to keep the dust out. I won't actually tune it until is has been in place for several weeks.

I think we will also need to find a book shelf for the living room/piano room for the few books we chose to bring. I have several very old volumes of literature my grandfather had. He used to read literature on the radio; kind of a story hour show. I have a couple of books which show his notes as he edited the story to fit the time frame of the show. Several years ago I
tried to have some of the reel to reel tapes transfered to CDs, but the tapes were so degraded, it wasn't really worth it. I do have one CD of the best quality stories; but even these are very poor.

I finally found the bolts and screws for the bed in our master bedroom. They were wrapped up inside the pillowtop. I will try to make some sense of these and put together the bed. Maybe when Doug gets back, we can move into the master bedroom.

I did finally have a hot shower today. Thanks to the plumber that worked on the system. I can't say the water was scalding hot, and I didn't need any "cold" water to temper it, but it was on the plus side of warm!

Koki and I spent the better part of a couple of hours at the dining room table making a list of things that still needed to be done. I do think we are down to the end, but it still seems like a lot needs to happen. Mostly though, they are
small details.

Workers have begun on the BBQ pit. Koki showed me a plan for the pit today, and it is indeed a BBQ area. It will be sunken; will have a sink, BBQ and prep area as well as seating around. Others have been finishing the walls in the servants quarters and others were laying tile in the entry. The camp the workers have been living in is supposed to disappear in the next week. This means that any of the workers left here, will be living in the servants quarters, pantry and storage room.

I've had a couple of people comment on my being alone here while Doug is in the states. I tell them, I am not alone. There are at least 10 workers here, any one of whom would jump to my defense in an instant if need be. I feel very safe here.

Chairman Meow continues to thrive. Whatever magic Sanchez worked on her did the trick. She continues to be affectionate, very vocal, and has yet to win over Stormy. Stormy truly thinks this kitten is food. She is obsessed with it. I've kept them separate for the most part; when the kitten is in the studio, Stormy is outside running from window to window totally focused on the kitten and barks, jumps at the window when the kitten moves. I know it hasn't been a week yet, but to look at Stormy, I don't know if whe will ever chill out and befriend this cat!
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