Moved!

Of course we would have liked the house to be a bit more finished before we moved, but hey, we couldn’t stand the rental pit one more day. We have now slept here (there is no longer a there) two nights. The new bed is quite pleasant.; I’ll get a better picture of it later. Cyn and I designed the bed and Aramis and I built it:

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Aramis welds the headboard.

Cynthia painted it:

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Cynthia mosquito-proofs herself with long sleeves and pants tucked into her socks. What a slave to fashion!

And cat Bob Bob laid claim to it:

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The kitchen, I mean the camp kitchen, is a bit spread out but it worked well enough for Sunday morning pancakes. I made a concrete counter next to the sink that I hung on the wall. Here is the counter ready to pour:

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I drilled holes in the metal wall, the back concrete wall, and the sink, then inserted rebar into the holes. The counter needs no other support after the concrete cures.

Then Cynthia took possession. Here she is washing a few dishes:

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The stove is in my shop:

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As is the refrigerator. Although our chest-type refrigerator and freezer experiment was a financial success with really low monthly electricity costs, Cynthia had had it with playing Rubik’s Cube with all the plastic boxes. So we bought a Panasonic refrigerator/freezer with their energy saving Inverter technology:

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With the sink outside, the stove and refrigerator in my shop, and all our dishes and pots and pans in the guest bedroom, one can get quite dizzy keeping all of this camp kitchen arrangement straight.

I managed to find time to hook up the washer and dryer. This was a significant amount of work because I had to spend a lot of time in the crawl space under the house connecting the gas, water, electric, water drain, and dryer exhaust. But now, just as we both ran out of clean clothes, the laundry is working. You’ve seen a washer and dryer before so I won’t bore you with a photo until I put the tile on the floor and wall.

We decided to use LED lighting throughout the house; if we install solar power in the future, we will need a lot less solar capacity. There is a small store that sells only LED lighting (in Panama City, on Tumba Muerto between PriceSmart and the Discovery Center, opposite side of the street, next to the Puma gasoline station). We have two ceiling fans in the dry room (dehumidifier) and one in the laundry room. Here is the dry room, still being organized. Later I will build custom shelving:

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New-generation LED bulbs throw a lot of light. We put eight, six-watt (equivalent to 50-watt old bulbs — 48-watts total instead of 400-watts total) in the dry room and four of the eight-watt bulbs (70-watt equivalent, 32-watts total vs. 280-watts total). Although the bulbs are $10 to $12 to $15 each, they should pay for themselves quickly given our high electric rates. One reason that we like these particular Ams brand bulbs is that the heat-sink area below the glass dome is cast aluminum. Many other brands use plastic; we have heard that the plastic parts can catch fire if the circuit board should fail:

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Regardless of the challenges of living “en campo,” I have to say that it is absolutely wonderful to wake up to all the nature that surrounds us. Good nature that is; parrots, eagles, a falcon, an occasional sloth and more — no mold, no termites, no ants, and so far no spiders.

Meanwhile, in spite of having to move truckloads of possessions from the rental pit, we have managed to accomplish quite a lot on the construction front. I made forms for the mini steps at the landings to the bedrooms and Armando and Alex poured the concrete:

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They turned out well; I’ll tile them when I tile the floors:

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Jabo is savvy about concrete. He wouldn’t use the stairs until I showed him that they were solid.

In my free time I hung the corrugated zinc panels on the wall behind the bed in the master bedroom:

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Later I will install trim at the top of the wall.

For the electric switch and receptacle boxes in the wall, I cut holes and inserted waterproof exterior boxes; more money but no holes for spiders! After I inserted the boxes into the holes, I caulked around the backside with urethane caulk:

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On the front side, I plan to go around the box with some gray or aluminum-colored caulk. After the switch or receptacle is installed, a standard cover will fit nicely on the box.

Armando and Alex have primed and first coated a lot of metal including these windows and bars:

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And the master bedroom bump out bars. I like the design of the metalwork a lot:

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Once the paint dried, I installed screening on the outside of the bump out. I did it the easy way — I put clear polymer acrylic caulk on the 2×2 square tubing and then embedded the screening into the caulk. When it is time to replace the screen or to paint the metal, I will just peal off the old screen and install new with new caulk.

We made another window frame and cut out a hole for the window (back side of container #4) in the guest bathroom:

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I still need to install the louvered glass panes, but the man that made the window cut the glass a quarter-inch too short. He will deliver the correct size later this week.

In the loft, I was going to put container siding below and a fixed glass pane above, as you can see in the next photo. I was never really happy with the design because it didn’t go with the vertical windows to the right nor the kitchen window below:

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So the redesign committee decided to replicate the kitchen window just below the loft window. Much more continuity of design and more ventilation. This window was a lot of work; first we cut an eight-foot section of wall from between containers #1 and #2. It took the four of us to raise the heavy panel to the loft where we welded it into place:

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We used the long carriolas to guide the wall panel up to the loft.

Aramis welded the panel into place:

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Then we cut almost all of the wall away for the window! But it looks good:

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The lower kitchen window is now painted black, too.

Here is that same loft window from inside the loft after we installed the security bars:

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Aramis is zooming along with the metal work. When he ran out of work on fabricating the doors, windows, and the bed, we decided to tackle the inside of containers #1 and #2, our future kitchen and den. Next is a photo taken from the container doors on the east (driveway) end. (Remember? — some time ago Armando and I cut  and moved one of the walls from container #2 and moved it upstairs to make the long loft wall.) So far, in the #1/#2 pod we have cut an eight-foot section of wall that we moved upstairs for the east window wall, cut a twelve-foot section that we will use to make the exterior wall by the second bedroom stair landing, installed two ceiling beams, and installed two window frames:

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The beams are double 2×6 carriolas. They hold the roof up (as does the wall above that is welded to the roof of the containers). Also, because the beams are centered over the  (future) kitchen islands, it will be easy to run wires and install lighting.

Cynthia and I are really excited to see the kitchen/den underway. I didn’t think that we would be able to tackle that area for some months to come; the camp kitchen experience will be relatively brief.

In critter news: Armando was picking beans in our garden across the street when he came across a small frog. El Valle is world famous for its endangered golden frog. This one looks like a close relative:

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The house has been taking all my time. I can’t wait until it is done and I can get back to watercolor painting. I really enjoy painting hands, so this photo may be a candidate for a painting.

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Armando became papa to the little frog — it wouldn’t leave his hand when Armando lowered it to the ground.

And while I was disconnecting the alarm at the rental pit, I came across the remains of a gecko. Dead geckos have been the demise of one of our computer printers and a computer graphics card. The alarm survived a close call; perhaps there should be a gecko trip wire in the alarm…:

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I spotted this next critter on the stove. I had to be quite persistent in removing it; it’s feet were super-glued to the stove. And check out those antennas!:

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Starting with this post, my blog should load much faster because I have finally figured out hot to optimize all the photos for web viewing. Sorry it took me so long!

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

6 thoughts on “Moved!

  1. Thank you for all the photos! Including the frog, but especially a happy Cynthia! It’s all so exciting. What an amazing place!

  2. Congratulations you two on MOVING IN … and we can tell from Cynthia’s expression that she is HAPPY even with a temporary camp kitchen! Bravo … and we have always liked the “willowy” elegant design of the security bars! We are wanting to install concrete counter-tops also and hope it CAN be relatively simple to use ONLY our concrete back wall to embed the rebar into … but have more learning to do about the amount of weight (and even thickness) that is required for the countertop to be secure… Your site has been a great inspiration for us … keep up the good W O R K!

  3. Awesome job, the industrial general look is incredible and a permanent “grabbing” zoo to boot. I can see hours and hours of joy in such a unique structure, and with a different place to enjoy every day of the week.
    And let’s not skip the frame you have for the house, the India dormida nearby!

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