As Armando and I planned, I arrived in his neighborhood at 5:45 Tuesday morning.
Actually I was a few minutes early so I drove to the hole-in-the-wall bread bakery just a few blocks away and bought three dozen hot-out-of-the-oven small rolls. They only make one thing, these rolls, and they make them by the thousands every morning.The bakery is sold out and closed by 8:00 or so every morning. The rolls were still so hot that they steamed the windows in the car. But what an aroma!
Armando arrived with his five, hand-selected men (he made a point of telling me that he took great care to choose only men who would work hard). I gave them the option of riding in the pickup bed or in the car. Normally they would ride outside in the air, but this morning the thermometer in the car said the outside temperature was 67-degrees F. (19.5 C.). Down right chilly. So Armando, being the crew boss, got in the front seat. The other five men sardined into the back seat!
Two days earlier I ordered 50 sacks of cement. Here they are being delivered:
We arrived at the house (now it’s a house… I used to call it “the project” or “the job”…) at 6:00 sharp. The men all took to different corners of the house and changed from their street clothes into their work clothes. One man had a new hole in one of his rubber boots. We tried various methods of patching it, including a bicycle tire patch, sticky-backed aluminum tape, duct tape, and electrical tape. Nothing stuck. The entire crew was involved in solution finding, and finally someone suggested putting his foot in a plastic grocery bag and then his foot in the boot. That was the answer and all day he was singled out by the crew as having “the extra-special boot.”
Armando dispatched the three wheelbarrows and six shovels and they went right to work. All totaled for the day, they mixed 90 wheelbarrows of sand and gravel with 45, 94-pound sacks of cement. They made it in three batches, plus one more batch of four wheelbarrows full to finish the job. If you have never seen anyone putting stuff in a wheelbarrow, here they are loading the sand and gravel:
And dumping it:
They spread the first 24 loads of sand and gravel out and threw a dozen sacks of cement on top:
They opened the sacks of cement and spread them around:
Next they turned the entire pile two or three times to mix everything together:
And finally they added water to the mix. I got a big laugh from the men when I told them that I would handle the hose, hard work for a boss. At this point all were dripping with sweat and covered in cement dust. I told them to sit down and rest while I got a good puddle of water.
Here is a video showing how damn hard the men work for their day’s pay. The second part of the video has no audio:
At this point friend Jim showed up to supervise, and Cynthia arrived with my morning dose of oatmeal (oatmeal, raisins, cinnamon, chopped raw pumpkin seeds, and coconut oil). Here’s one of today’s many good photos by Cynthia:
Jabo was very interested in my breakfast:
The first batch of concrete is poured and screeded. Jim and I did most of the screeding (leveling of the concrete).
As the concrete set up, I ran my homemade bull float over the surface:
I told the men that they had free access to the bag of fresh rolls and a cooler full of soda. Here Manuelito (back to the camera) and Junior take a well deserved break:
Here we have finally reached the east end of the space:
As we completed an area, we pulled the 2×6 metal carriolas that we used to strike the concrete level:
Here’s a tuckered out Jim. And he said he was only going to supervise:
Armando tucks some concrete into a corner:
As we neared the end of the pour, we needed fewer and fewer planks, shovels, and wheelbarrows, so I had one of the men start washing all the equipment:
At 2:00, eight hours after we started and when everything was cleaned and put away, I held payday and Jim took the five extra men home. Armando and I stayed to bull float and wooden float the floor. I sent him home at 4:00 because the remaining concrete still had water on top. I stayed to finish the final work with the wooden float when the water evaporated.
Here’s a lonely Armando in the middle of the Big Floor with the wooden float:
I called it the end of a long day at 6:00 p.m. and tottered my way home. Cynthia had tacos waiting. Our tacos are more like handheld salads. We make a big pizza pan full of raw grated carrots, onions, red cabbage, tomatoes, green peppers, a can of corn, and sometimes radish or whatever else is in the refrigerator. Cynthia dices and seasons a (pregrilled then frozen) chicken breast for herself and I get a serving of (pre-pressure cooked and frozen in serving-sized plastic bags) seasoned pinto or red or black beans. Yes, we reheat the chicken and the beans. We toast taco shells in a little coconut oil in a frying pan. I could eat this every night!
And through it all, Jabo was the only one that didn’t do a lick of work all day. Unless you count licking the oatmeal pan:
That’s all for now. The rest of the Big Roof and the front porch concrete are next. Thanks for stopping by.