First Window Frame Installed ~ Plus Odds ‘n Ends

I have installed the first window frame, and I’ll get to that in a moment.

But first, In my last post I mentioned that we ordered some tile for the columns at the front gate and for the two buttress columns at the garage. On the scheduled day of delivery, the nice woman at the Elmec company called to say that they were going to deliver only half the order because they were still searching for the rest of the order that the computer said was on hand.

“Hold your horses,” I said. “All or nothing, please.” I know how it is here, and I knew that there was a high likelihood that the second half would never be found and I would be in a pickle. Sure enough, some hours later she called again and said the balance was nowhere to be found. So Cynthia and I made a quick trip to the city and chose another tile. This one, also porcelain, looks like slate and has a slight green cast to it. Here’s a photo:

There would be a delay of another week because they only deliver here on Wednesday. As promised, the entire order arrived as scheduled. The truck driver, however, was the Worst-Backer-Upper-In-The-World, and promptly backed off our little side road and into the muddy ditch. To his surprise, I easily pulled the big truck free with the Honda Ridgeline and a tow strap.

But now the driver was completely unnerved and refused to try again. He suggested that I back the Honda up to his truck, and we would do a relay transfer, his truck to my truck to the house. We started, putting about 25 tiles in the Honda. But it was raining with gusto and I could see that this wasn’t going to be any fun at all. I baulked in my best Spanish and exclaimed, “No, no, no, no!” I dug my heels into the mud and told him he would have to use the other, better road and back the truck up to the house. I wasn’t going to do this 500-tile plus 13 bags of thin-set mortar transfer dance.

He caved, and after much backing comedy he finally made it into the driveway and within a few feet of where I wanted to store the tile. The rest was uneventful, and the deposito now looks like this. I’ve got my work cut out for myself:

I mentioned all of the above first because this tile delay gave me two weeks to fill. I decided to install the window frame that goes in the white wall between containers 3 and 4.

I cut the hole with the angle grinder because it does a neater job than the torch, although both options work well. I installed the frame just as I did the door frames. Here I am dry-fitting the frame in the opening:

After it fit plumb and level, I tack welded the frame in four places, ground the welds smooth, and using the pneumatic caulking gun, caulked the joint with the black urethane windshield adhesive:

Next I welded the security bar frame to the window frame and gave everything a first coat of polyurethane oil red oxide primer:

With hinges and locks on the security bar frame, in the future I will be able to open the security bars to wash the windows and to repaint the metal.

I had made the hinges some time ago:

I also welded short pieces of angle iron to the window frame and the security bar frame, the pieces having aligning holes for bolts or padlocks when the security bar frame is closed:

I should have waited to caulk until after I welded on the hinges and angle iron pieces because heat from the welder damaged the nice caulk line. I'll touch this up later.

You can see the installed window frame assembly in the next photo. This photo is my new banner photo at the top of the blog; I’ll change it from time to time as visual progress warrants:

I still have to install the glass, but I’m holding off for a while so it doesn’t get damaged during construction.

For another time-filling project, remember that I had previously made forms for plant pots:

Armando and I poured concrete in the form and I put a broom finish on it. I’m letting it cure for a month or so:

Then I noticed that the jobsite was messy:

So I spent two days cleaning the area and it looks a lot better. I also sprayed the quart of potential paint color on the white panel. It’s close, but it came out too blue. We want the same color only in green (more sage but not sage) if that makes any sense to you. I’ll pick another color the next time I go down the mountain. I also took some time and removed all the decals on the doors of 3 and 4. It was an easy process; I used a propane torch (a heat gun would also have worked well), heated a decal for a second or two, then the decals peeled off easily. The trick is to get the decal and surrounding metal just hot enough to activate the adhesive but not so hot that it doesn’t melt the decal or raise a heat blister on fingers. Here’s a photo:

All cleaned up, door decals removed, and the wrong color sprayed on the wall.

I ended up with the small pile of scrap metal shown in the next photo. I had Armando flag down the recycle truck, and along with a bag of flattened Coke cans, Armando picked up an extra six dollars in his pocket for the day. I always give him the recycle money; it’s not much for me but is a big boost for him:

Let’s see, what else has been happening? Oh yeah, Armando put the repello (stucco) on the squat wall in the carport:

Jabo sits on the squat wall.

And the carport roof over the doors of container 4 wasn’t quite finished so I tackled that one day:

A Plycem (tilebacker) wall and a good bead of mortar stop rain from entering the garage here.

This area of the completed roof looks like this from below:

So that’s been my past two weeks. I’m excited to begin the tile work, but that will need to wait just a bit, as Cynthia and I will be going to Texas for at least a week.

Here’s the story. It is a very personal story, and if all you want from this blog is information about building a shipping container house, you should stop reading now. Otherwise, what follows is an intimate view into our lives together.

I’d like to tell the following story as a tribute to the woman I love, to my wonderful wife, Cynthia. She was dealt a life-altering, ability-reducing, medically-induced injury. She can’t always be pleasant about it, and neither can I. Although it has been a grueling couple of marriage- and character-testing years for the both of us, I am constantly amazed at her grit and determination to recover. Not a day goes by that I am not impressed by her ever-renewing fight to improve her life and our lives together. Thank you Cynthia, you are the definition of bravery.

As some of you know, a year ago last November Cynthia had open heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. They replaced a failing heart valve, and in the process something went very, very wrong. For whatever reason, she was without sufficient oxygen to her brain for an extended number of minutes. As a result, she suffered brain damage to numerous areas of her brain. When they brought her out of anesthesia, she suffered convulsions, so they kept her in a medically-induced coma for nearly ten days while they tried to figure it out. We don’t think know that they didn’t figure it out, but they were finally able to bring her out of the coma. The damage was done. Since then, even with numerous changes and tweaking of a lot of anti-seizure/epilepsy drugs, she still suffers convulsions nearly every night; three or four or five of them, and they last ten minutes to an hour each. I wake up with each convulsion, stroke her hair, keep her from falling out of bed, and neither of us gets enough sleep. A lot of her fine motor skills were also affected and she has worked valiantly long and hard to regain functions that the surgery took away. I give Cynthia massive, massive credit; I have never met a person more determined to overcome her significant medically-induced injuries. Yes, the surgical team did save her life, and that is noteworthy, but beyond that I don’t give her doctors much credit at all; the surgeon simply told me that the surgery “went very well with no problems.”  Add on top of the convulsions the side effects of the ineffective drugs plus debilitating headaches, and it has been a very difficult time for us both.

In a recent email, a Panamanian friend noted that a friend of hers, in a similar situation, went to an epilepsy hospital in the States and returned medicine and seizure free. That started Cynthia on a Google Frenzy of searching for answers, and the upshot is that we are going to an epilepsy hospital in Texas, initially for a week of testing. The results of those tests will determine future medical tests and possible “curative” actions. Here’s a couple pictures of Cynthia during and after the haircut I gave her to prepare for the week of electrodes she will have to endure on her head in the hospital:

Cynthia was a great sport about cutting her hair. I asked her if it was a badge of courage and she said that yes, it was.

We recently read a book that says that you can't see brain injuries. I think she looks great. Is that Jamie Lee Curtis?

So my blog will be quiet for a few weeks, I hope you will understand.

Thanks for stopping by.



17 thoughts on “First Window Frame Installed ~ Plus Odds ‘n Ends

  1. I wish you both well, and success in Texas. Enjoy your blog with interest in your exploits to transform shipping containers into a home; I’m sure you will both succeed. We’ll look you up when we finally arrive in Panama later this year.

  2. My husband and I so enjoy your blog, even as a woman I look forward to the next installment. We met you and your lovely wife when we were @ a brunch in El Valle in April, I even commented while we were in the line getting our food how much I loved your stories, and that we had only been here a few weeks. Sounds like Texas is the best place to be for Cynthia’s testing/treatment. We wish you the best. Everybody has their stories on how they got here and what they are doing, but yours is a true love story. Hope to cross paths with you both since we are making El Valle our home as well. We have started our own blog since arriving, the first month we blogged on facebook about our adventures of every day life until we finally figured out how to start a blog. LOL
    P.S. Cynthia I love the new Jamie Lee Curtis haircut, maybe you will start a new trend here in El Valle, a great look and feel for all this humidity.
    Sandy & Mike Coleman

  3. I truly wish both of you a safe and productive trip to Texas. I hope that the tests go well, and in a couple of weeks you have some terrific news for us all.

  4. Hi unkie,
    It’s your darling great-niece (Colleens daughter). I’ve been following your blog for some time now and just wanted to say how in awe I am of what you have created, your thought processes, and creativity behind each addition. I have been following sustainable living environments and alternative methods from afar in hopes of being able to use them in the future. Needless to say your project makes me extremely excited (and quite possibly extremely jealous). I’m so glad you’ve decided to document your progress and thanks for the entertainment. I hope you leave Texas on a positive note.

  5. Enjoyed reading your blog very much. I live in Texas; Kerrville, Texas and am currently working to build a home in the country near here. I have three 40 ft. Hi Cube containers from which to build a house. Have completed a well and septic system and will begin pouring concrete very soon for columns to set the containers on. They currently sit on the ground and have been where I keep my equipment for this project. I am anxious to see your progress and will likely use some of your ideas. Good luck with the medical issues and I pray that God will show the doctors where the problem is and how to correct this issue that your wife has. Look forward to future chapters. DonP

  6. i really like what your doing, me and my wife have just bought a place on the lake here in Texas and have ordered two containers to build ourselves.. I have some ideas that you might like and would appreciate any ideas you have for me.. Nice job..

    • Thanks very much for your compliments and have fun with your build. My best tip for you is to go to YouTube and search for Spray Foam Insulation. It is a bit more expensive by will save you a ton of problems — Thinner built-out walls, no condensation, non-toxic once it is in place. I love the stuff and am disappointed that I don’t need to use much insulation here in the tropics. Good luck! Fred

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