Four Counters And A Long Bench

And the flu dragged on and on for several more weeks. Then I got a sty and the area around my right eye swelled mightily. So I haven’t done much work since my last post. But now it is time to rebuild all that muscle that I lost in the past weeks! Getting back to work was physically difficult, but I did it and I have accomplished a few things.

One day I sprayed the long wall in the living/dining room. I sprayed it a primer white, so now it is ready for the finish color.

Cynthia said that she would like a long bench seat along this same wall, so one day Armando and I formed it and readied it for concrete.

I didn’t want to weld the rebar directly to the container wall because on the other side of the wall is the walk-in closet. Welding would burn the paint and make an awful amount of smoke and I didn’t want to remove all our clothes from the closet. But I did want to connect the bench to the wall so that it wouldn’t pull away. So I drilled half-inch holes where I wanted the short pieces of rebar. I inserted two-inch bolts from the closet side and put a nut on the living room side. Then I could weld the rebar to the bolts and not burn the paint in the closet. We are going to use the same black-tinted concrete as we did in the kitchen. Here is the wall primed white and the bench form work ready for concrete:


Later I’ll put LED lighting under the length of the bench.

While we were at it, we formed four counter tops. One is upstairs in the loft where we will put a small sink. This sink is close to the roof deck and will be useful for doing art projects in the loft. The bottom of a five-gallon bucket was the perfect size to make the hole for the sink; I cut the bucket on the table saw. The other wooden disks to the right of the sink will make the hole for the faucet:


Back down stairs, we formed another counter in the kitchen. We’ll put the microwave on this counter. I used a bunch of scrap rebar here. Later I’ll build an aluminum cabinet below the counter:


At the far end of the kitchen we’ll mount the TV on the dark gray wall. I want to build a cabinet below the TV for components and such, so we built the form work for a counter. As standard practice in forming all these counters, I drilled half-inch holes in the concrete walls and inserted the rebar into the holes. At the metal container wall, I did the bolt/rebar thing as I did on the long bench. The counter will be self-supporting with the cabinet built below:


And finally, this morning I formed the counter for the sink in the half-bath under the stairs. The sink will be a round glass vessel type that will fit the contour of the counter. A long time ago I saw a sink mounted in a corner with a mirror on either wall. It makes an unique effect so I’ll do the same here:


Armando and I plan to pour the concrete later this week or early next week.

In other news, I’ve been working on converting have converted to the gluten-free, low-carb, high-fat, high-protein diet that Cynthia’s cardiologist wants her to eat (based on the two books, Wheat Belly and Grain Brain). I’m eating a massive amount of food and have lost all the sugar and carb cravings. I am surprised how quickly those cravings disappeared. Below is a photo of my breakfast one day — a large plate of veges and three eggs, all scrambled and sauteed in coconut oil. I seasoned this batch with Herbs de Provence, although other times I may use curry or Italian herbs. This meal is interchangeable for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Delicious and very filling and I haven’t gained back a single pound!


For the past four-years, we’ve had a problem with a particular kind of fly, called the sagaño. The sagaño builds a giant mother ship nest, then sends away teams to build more nests. They’ve been trying to build many of these satellite nests high on the house, which Armando and I knock down with the pressure washer. But they won’t stop building! Besides defacing the house, this fly, if you pass within a few feet of their nest, will attack people and pets. They don’t sting like a bee, but instead bite. They quickly wiggle their way through your hair and bite your scalp. They like to climb under your shirt and bite your armpit.

The mother ship is just a few feet into the neighboring lot to the west of our fence, and the other day Armando and I decided that it was time for the big nest to go. I hated to do it because they seem to have the one redeeming quality of pollinating the bananas.

We quietly and stealthily placed a tall ladder in the tree about fifteen feet from the nest. Even that was provocative and the flies attacked. We had prepared ourselves with protective clothing which is a good thing because we were each covered with hundreds of the little biting creatures. Like chimps picking lice off of each other, I picked the flies off of Armando and he picked them off of me. Working in quick volleys, we cut the branch that the nest was attached to. Surprisingly heavy, the nest crashed to the ground with a loud thud. Armando had made a small, smokey fire to distract the flies.

Using a long pole, we placed on top of the nest a Ziploc bag full of diesel and a bit of gasoline. Next we used the pole with a nail taped to it to puncture the bag; the fuel saturated the nest. Finally, we used the pole to deliver a flaming torch to the nest. All this happened over several hours to give the flies time to calm down; most of the flies abandoned ship as they seem to like to be higher in the air. Here is the nest with Armando’s foot on it:



Again, I hated to do it but their bite is annoying and their saliva, or whatever they use as a building material, is corrosive to the paint and galvanized metal on the house.

And one other thing, these are bar flies. Really. They love the smell of oil-based paint and lacquer thinner. They get quite drunk and propel themselves against the wet paint. Now if you notice blemishes in my paint, you know why.

Cynthia returns from the States next week, so in an attempt to impress her upon her return, in the rain-free mornings I’ve had Armando outside in the gardens. For the first time, the entire lot is pretty-much weed-free and everything looks good and healthy. He cleaned dead leaves from all the plants and fertilized everything. This should be a good welcome home for her.

That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by.

14 thoughts on “Four Counters And A Long Bench

  1. as usual , another great post , lots of interesting things done in prep for still more interesting projects in the ongoing saga of building the house. Then to top it off , a battle with biting insects ending with a flaming sendoff , what more can a guy ask for. cheers for the post 🙂

  2. Hi Mike,

    Thanks very much. I’m relieved that you used the word “ongoing” rather than “never ending!” And the biting flies do seem to have headed off to better pastures. I’ll go shopping today for the materials to pour the counters and the bench so stay tuned. Thanks again. Fred

  3. Hello Fred,
    If it’s not one insect, it will be another. I’m sure I’ll encounter this sagano fly problem someday.
    My favorite are the red ants that make a hill on your lawn and bite the crap out of you if you carelessly step on their mound, or the leaf cutters that march across your lawn with the leaves from your trees ! Still, both are quick fixes with the mega poison powder sold at Melos. Makes quick work of them with no need for a bonfire !!
    Fred, it’s amazing what you’ve accomplished since I last saw you. I will drop by when I’m in El Valle. I’ll be in Panama from 7/17 to the 30th.
    See you soon. jim from new york

    • Hi Jim,

      Ah, the red ants. Cynthia and I were on a job site (before this house). We had a crew of about six men. Cynthia stood on an ant hill and was attacked — I had to have the men leave so that she could take her pants off to quickly get the ants off of her! No end to the joy.

      The bonfire was good, Armando and I roasted marshmallows. (No, but I did think about it…)

      I’ll look forward to your visit. Thanks for your comment and my best to Wenmin. Fred

  4. Glad you are feeling better Fred. Cynthia should be so pleased when she returns. I hope she is well. That was quite the nest, yikes.

    • Hi Cynthia,

      Thanks, yes I feel better after getting back to work. Cynthia got a lot of information from her doctors and we’ll spend some time sorting it out.

      Yes, quite a nest. I took a swing at it with the machete; the nest was so hard that it took a big chip out of the machete and the handle stung my hand it was so hard! Thanks again for your comment, hope you are well too. Fred

  5. Congratulations on all your recent accomplishments, including going gluten free and especially ridding your space of biting flies!! And YAY! on Cynthia coming home. Much love, Rebecca

  6. Hey Fred. You know, one thing you haven’t shown us is the bathrooms! I bet they are really wonderful. And did I hear there are five total? What materials did you use? Are they all different? What are the colors? Can you post some photos tonight?

    • Hi Lynn,

      And I have a very good reason for not showing you the bathrooms — there aren’t any yet!

      The three remaining significant projects are floor tiles throughout the house, the bathrooms, and the kitchen cabinet doors and drawers. To date, we are still using the tiny bathroom next to my shop, the one I built for Armando. It has a toilet and an electrically-heated shower head. So if we need to go to the bathroom in the night, it is a star-gazing opportunity! At least it is a flush commode — The new President of Panama (enters office tomorrow) ran on eliminating rural latrines and providing clean water for the entire country.

      Thanks for the comment. Fred

  7. They say, “when it rains, it pours” and, obviously, that applies in more than one way in Panamá, as of late!! Glad you are feeling better, Cynthia is on the way back, the garden is clean and work is, once again, progressing, and the flies are taken care of (at least for now)!!

    Great news indeed!

    Hugs for you both from the “true” deep south! 😉

    • Hi John,

      Yes, we seem to be getting back on track. Today Armando and I poured the five five forms so there is more progress. I’m anxious to get back to the kitchen floor tiles. Later this week I guess.

      The flies are still gone, on to greener pastures I suppose. Thanks for your comment and regards to you in the True Deep South. Fred

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