Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Costs Past and Overdue- Queenie and Kaylee

I just realized that with all my worries, I had neglected to post some costs for the month of February. So I’ll start with those.

Costs incurred in February:

Materials or Labour Cost     
Cement and metal wire 300.
Labour 1,118.
1 truckload gravel-  
21 Re-bars-*  
5 kg wire-  
10 kg rings-*  
5 bags cement-                                       Total bill 4,153.
Labour 2,243.
Total for February $7,814.

* A note about the above expenses. I’d changed my mind about the type of roof I wanted and returned the rings and re-bars for a credit. In the end I had opted for a flat roof of bovedillas and cement for the bedroom and dining room kitchen. They have thermal qualities that ensure coolness in outside heat and warmth in outside cold. I used the credit for 20 bags of cement in March.

Costs incurred in March:

Materials or Labour Cost  
2000 cunas (small bricks for dome roof) 3,000.
Rental of cement mixer 350.
8 viguetas for bedroom ceiling 2,840.
4 viguetas for bathroom ceiling 504.
155 bovedillas 1,410.
11 m metal mesh for bedroom roof 825.
10 – 8 ft. 4 x 4 for support 550.
Cement extra - 20 bags were exchanged for returned re-bars and rings 710.
4 bags lime 156.
Spatula for mason who had forgotten his 160.
Labour plus bonus  
Demetrio 255.
Jesus 730.
Pepe 730.
Ruben 310.
Luis 1,080.
Lupe 205.
Antonio 205.
Total $14,020.

Construction will resume on April 2nd (my 73rd birthday), 3rd, and 4th with the building of the dining room/kitchen roof. It will be a flat roof identical to that of the bedroom and bathroom.

Yesterday, I had to go to the veterinarians who had come to check on Queenie when she suddenly had taken ill and seen her stomach swelling up. The vets had told me at the time that it was probably her heart. However yesterday, they said that there had been two possibilities-her heart or cancer of the liver. Learning how quickly she had passed, their diagnostic changed to a very aggressive form of cancer of the liver. Unfortunately, this made me relive her last hours and reinforced my opinion that the first 5 years of her life had been very miserable. Living as a breeding machine and not well cared for. After I’d rescued her, she had so enjoyed traveling as co-pilot and reigning supreme either in Arizona or Alberta that, despite the returning sorrow of losing her, I derived some contentment and satisfaction in knowing that she had enjoyed her life for the last 3+ years of being with me.

As to Kaylee, the site of her incision when spayed was a tad swollen and hard, which prompted my visit to the vets. Reassured that all will heal well in time, I remarked to them how surprisingly well behaved she is. She’s so calm and with such good manners that it seems almost impossible to me that she’d been a street dog for the first 6 months of her life. Maria**, the vet, replied that it was often the case with street dogs who had lived virtually by '”the skin of their teeth” that, when rescued and receiving food, water, care, and love, they became tranquil and reassured that their lives had taken a turn for the better. I hope that this will encourage people to rescue animals who have had such a hard life.

** Maria and her veterinarian husband have 5 rescued dogs and a couple of tiny kittens less than a month old.

Monday, March 12, 2012

And a Roof is On…

For a good while, there was nothing to report. Last week was quite an intensive week, starting with three men-Luis, Jesus, and Pepe-preparing the first phase of the roof construction over the bedroom. First I’ll have to show the various components and how they are assembled. For me, quite a discovery!

The viquetas arrive pre-manufactured and consist of a metal armature in a cement bar. They are stretched over the top of the walls at measured intervals to accommodate the bovedillas.

Roof over bedroom & bath 005-1






And here are the bovedillas below on the left. Note the lip on each side of the bovedilla that will rest on the vigueta. Before the bovedillas go on the viguetas, supports made of 4” x 4” are made and installed. Photo below on the right shows the supports.

Roof over bedroom & bath 004-1Roof over bedroom & bath 003-1

Then planks are fitted to form a casing all around the roof in which concrete will be poured as the final step. Both photos below show the wood form that will receive the concrete.

The next step involves the electrician who will run a hose between the future outlets, light fixtures, wall switches, and the main. These hoses will house the electrical wires that will be inserted later.

Roof over bedroom & bath 014-1The photo below left shows how a bovedilla has been removed to allow for the ceiling light box. A piece of wood is tied in to make a form in which the concrete will be poured.



Roof over bedroom & bath 010-1

We are interrupting this narrative to announce fantastic news. It’s an election year and this morning the Presidencia’s Public Works gave us a 99% probability that WE WILL GET ELECTRICAL POWER! The elections take place in July so we presume that by then we’ll be electrified! I certainly am right now!

What comes next is the laying down of heavy duty metal mesh as is shown below.

Roof over bedroom & bath 013-2

There is a gentle slope to the roof to permit evacuation of rainwater. It’s not so visible or even detectable when looking inside at what will constitute the ceiling.

Bedroom roof 008




The last phase necessitated 7 men-Antonio, Demetrio, Jesus, Luis, Lupe, Pepe, and Ruben. I had rented a cement mixer that worked on gasoline and Jesus was minding the machine, filling it with cement, sand, gravel, and water. Demetrio filled the buckets that Antonio, Lupe, and Pepe brought to Ruben. He, Ruben, stood on a scaffold and passed the bucket to Luis who spread it on the roof.

 Bedroom roof 010-1From left to right are Demetrio, Jesus’ legs, Ruben, Antonio, and Lupe.

Bedroom roof 009




Luis and Jesus on the scaffold on the photo to the right.


Bedroom roof 003

The layer of concrete goes from 12 cm at the high end to 5 cm at the low end. It is smoothed by hand with a wood ram in the form of a reversed T. And of course, handmade.

I had been told that once the highest part of the house is finished, it is the custom for the employer to offer lunch to the workers. The information however, was not completely exact. I should have prepared a good lunch for them with chicken, chicharon, guacamole, tortillas, beer and soda pop. Expecting the tradition to be respected, the poor guys had not brought anything to eat. I could sense discontent but could not attribute it to anything until my neighbour informed me that I was at fault. I felt terrible…

So on Friday, I went to Yvonne’s lot to give each a bonus with my apologies for failing to respect the tradition. I hope that I’ll be forgiven.

My house will be completely fireproof, wouldn’t you say?

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