One More Phase of Remodeling Finished!

For the past 5 or 6 weeks our place has been taken over by workers making some changes to our outside space and inside working on our kitchen.

Finally all is completed and Joe and I can start to clean up the dust that was left behind while they worked.

IMG_2936We had the bamboo fence added to two walls and it has turned a beautiful tan color. It was treated for bugs and then varnished.

IMG_2937Our driveway was plain concrete so we had that resurfaced and topped with granito and then varnished.

IMG_2938We also had the one section of our back yard covered in cement and they topped that with large outdoor ceramic tiles and granito to make a nice patio.IMG_2939I hated the way the top of the cistern looked so we had them put the granito on that as well.

IMG_2945The last item was the new gate with a built in door and a roof to protect it which was just completed this past Saturday.

Now everything needs a nice coat of white paint.  Well not right now, we need a break from workers.  ja ja

Finally Kitchen Cabinets

When we moved into this house we put a basic kitchen counter in the kitchen.  Several months later we added shelving underneath along with a wood work table.  It has taken me almost four years to decide what I wanted in the way of kitchen cabinets and finally a few weeks ago I placed the order.  Please first understand, if I did not have my neighbor and friend David Zambrano to assist me this would never come to pass. His contacts, artistic insight, innate ability to understand me, abilities as a maestro and supervisor, and his total acceptance of us make him and his family so special to us.  Today the cabinets have been installed and now I can finally put all my kitchen items in closed cupboards or up on a shelf and off the counters. Notice Helena, David’s wife and alter ego, in the first picture carefully watching to be sure everything is just right!

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Jorge and his crew did a beautiful job. We could not be happier at how the cabinets turned out. IMG_2895

It took both Joe and I most of Sunday to figure out where everything should go. Below is the first draft, you know I will need to make a bunch of changes before I am totally pleased with how everything is placed.

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Investing in the Local Economy

Ever since we moved here to San Clemente our neighbor David Zambrano has helped us with so many jobs around this house I can no longer remember all of them.  While we were staying in Manta, David took care of our home, our yard and our plants.  When we came back my plants were more beautiful and lush than I could ever had gotten them.  I do feel he has a green thumb.

David is great with electrical or plumbing problems but on occasion he has done some small woodworking for me as well as small concrete jobs along with a bit of painting. If he cannot do it he will find someone who can.

When the earthquake hit on April 16th, Joe got me out of the house but we were in shock, we just sat on lawn chairs out on the driveway.  David and his brother Pilli made a quick check of all the neighbors and then came back to get Joe and I.  They walked us through our house sweeping a path through the debris as they got us into our bedroom and found us shoes, shirts and flashlights. They found two folding chairs on our patio and walked us down the street to a waiting car, where we were treated like royalty and taken up the hill to Pepita’s home to wait out the tsunami warning.  David came back several hours later and took us to our home. Again, he needed to sweep a path to be able to get to the bathroom and into bed.  I cannot explain how much this meant to Joe and I.  It took us days to stop trembling when we felt an aftershock and some of those aftershocks measured over 6.

Now we are starting the work that we have been planning for the house for the past year.  This is the time to do it, this is the time to invest in this community so it can heal. If you have projects that you are looking to do in the next year, I ask that you do those projects now, infusing money into the local economy.

So far we have contracted to have wood cabinets built for our kitchen, a block and concrete wall built at the back of our property and bamboo fencing for two additional walls in our yard. This is not replacement for damage done it is all new items that we were planning to add over the next several years. Next we will be hiring maestros to build two doors for the back walkway as well as a new wood gate for our drive.

Many people are not working right now, have no income coming in and have damage to their own property. If you are living in Ecuador and are thinking about investing in your property and can give work to those in your community please do it now.

It will make a difference in the quality of life right here in Ecuador.

 

 

Starting our Shelving

Quote for the day:

“You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself
from happiness.”
— Jonathan Safran Foer

Joe and I took some time off the past few months from construction work on the house to decide what was the most important items needed to make our life easier, now that we have lived in the house for a while. Since July we have dealt with concrete dust, saws spinning and hammers banging. We needed some time to live quietly in our house, get used to the rhythm of daily living, give our wallet a rest and time to recuperate –  and then decide what projects were most important.

I think the kitchen shelving under the counters is the most important item for me at this point. Having half of the kitchen items in the one spare room, stacked on a bunk bed works, but is not really that convenient for me.

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I found out that Max, our next door neighbor (actually renting the house we rented before this one was ready) is a master carpenter…so he offered to help us out. Early one Monday morning we went to the lumber yard and found what Max felt was the best hardwood to make the storage shelves under the kitchen counters. We placed our order, gave our deposit and were told it could be ready that afternoon or the next morning. Max did not want to rush these folks so he told them the next day would be fine. When we returned the next day we were told that enough wood for our needs was not available from the raw boards we had picked out, so Max started the task of looking at all the other hardwoods looking for the best for the job. He found it and they starting to plane it — I think that is the correct terminology. And then cut the pieces per Max’s dimensions. The two photos below show what we bought for $129.00.

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This will take care of under both kitchen counters and should last us our lifetime. Next he picked up these for some of the shelving we will be doing in the house.

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Max hand-picked each and every board to be sure there were straight and dried and ready for our use. This is what the undercounters look like before the shelving was installed. Not a great use of space!

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Here is what it looks like during installation, looks like tons of room right? Think again!

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Now the shelves filled!!!

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THe next days project is the shelving in our storage/laundry room.

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This is the finished product…all those shelves to fill…..what JOY!!!

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Now you can see how I have filled them up already, but getting all these items off the floor, adding a place to hang my brooms and mops was a stroke of genius.

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Woodworking

Some of the most beautiful work is done by the woodworkers in this area. The first photo is of cabinet work in a villa we looked at in San Jacinto.

Here is another example of some outstanding work. These are built to fit the back of a pick up truck. If transporting fish a fiberglass liner is added to protect the wood. Freddy told me this cost $500 to be made and installed on the back of your pickup. I see these around town that look to be very old but are still in great shape. I have been told that they use a very hard wood.

This work is being done a block from our house. I was impressed with the craftsmanship in all of these examples. The owner of the house we are currently renting is the gentleman so expertly wielding the machete.

And for my final example take a look at the beautiful worktable I had built for my kitchen. This beautiful 5 ft table made from a beautiful hard wood and stained to look very natural cost me $70.