Holy Cow! It’s Been A Year?

Holy cow, it’s been a year since my last post. For this entry, I looked through a couple hundred photos and chose some of my projects and highlights.

Winston: Let’s get the cat stuff out of the way first. Winston has provided many photo ops this last year. We get our mail once a week. He loves to play in the packing materials:

This would make a good painting.

Where’s Winston? Can’t believe he is fourteen!

Me being a good cat perch:

A Terrible Tooth: In the picture above, I have what I think are normal 73-year-old wrinkles and bags under my eyes. Age happens. I can’t complain. But one day, Cynthia said to me, “You are gray and look bad. Do you feel okay?” No, I didn’t feel okay. The whole side of my face was swollen and I was tired, tired, tired.

We went through the checklist of what might be ailing me. Finally, I pressed, one by one, on my teeth. One was painful. Two-hours later, I was in the dentist’s chair. His X-ray reveled that the painful tooth seemed to have an abscess. It had had a root canal many years ago. He said that he could “restore” it, but if it had made me look and feel this bad, I opted for it to go “bye-bye!” I’m glad I did because the yanked tooth had the smell of death. I have a picture of the tooth, but gross, you wouldn’t want to see it. Here I am that morning:

Yup. I looked bad! By the color, I think the whole side of my face was becoming necrotic.

I can’t imagine that this is at all interesting to you, but I want to make a point — Since pulling this nasty stump, I bought and read the book, The Toxic Tooth, about how root-canaled teeth can ruin one’s health, including causing heart disease. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has had a root canal or is considering having one.

A New Range Hood: When I built the kitchen, off-the-shelf hoods weren’t very available here, so I fabricated a diamond plate aluminum one. It was a bugger-bear to clean, and one edge never was square. It bothered me. So I bought a new hood.

Installation was an issue as there is a beam directly overhead. I wanted the type of hood made for islands, but the beam was problematic. My solution was to hang a “wall” on the beam and install a wall-mount type hood. I made the “wall” out of a piece of 1/4-inch steel plate, the beam sits in a saddle that I welded to the steel plate. I treated the steel with boiled linseed oil. It’s been in for months now and is holding up well:

Using ladders, a plank, and a wooden box, I propped the steel plate in place, two bolts securing it to the beam.

Two bolts secure the hood to the steel wall.

The exhaust pipe comes out the back of the steel plate. I couldn’t find metal six-inch stovepipe anywhere, so I used PVC. It hasn’t melted yet:

Still needs a bit of touchup paint.

Espresso Maker: Cynthia loves her morning coffee. With the pandemic dragging on, she decided that if she was going to be locked in the house, that she would like to enjoy better coffee. She got a really nice espresso machine and meticulously cleans it after every use:

Can’t go to the coffee shop? Bring the coffee shop home!

One day I took a photo of her empty coffee cup after she had artfully spooned out the foam. I had an enlargement made and surprised her when I hung it above the espresso maker (see photo above) –

This might make a good painting, too.

Door Lock: We have a space that we want to lock securely. And of course, I look for any opportunity to use a linear actuator. So guess what I did? Here’s the lock from inside the space:

Still needs some touchup paint.

I made a box for the linear actuator from a piece of 2-inch by 4-inch steel tubing. The actuator fit nicely inside:

I fabricated a lid for the box from a piece of 1/2-inch black plastic that I found in the road:

Here’s the finished box that I mounted in the concrete block wall. It took me a couple hours of drilling and chipping concrete to make the hole in the wall:

Wires run through the wall to the power supply and hidden switches.

New Photo Prints: The living/dining room wall gets a lot of morning sun, and the photos in the concrete frames faded. I ordered new prints:

Some of the photos became wrinkled from humidity. I was waiting for sticky mounting paper to arrive in the mail, which fixed the problem.

I Have This Thing for tropical clouds:

Taken from our roof — darker clouds moving in for an afternoon rain.

When you see this, get off the roof!

The dark black clouds yield this:

Drainage ditches and road completely submerged.

Fog rolls in:

I took this one from our roof deck.

A New Generator: We have lots of power outages from trees down, both in the dry season from wind and in the rainy season from, … wait for it …, rain. Our solar power setup covers all our electronic and LED lighting needs. The generator will power the refrigerator, freezer, and the big water pump in the greenhouse for our tilapia (fish). I chose a dual-fuel gasoline/propane generator and only run it on propane. It runs much cleaner than gas and doesn’t mess up the carburetor if it sits idle for weeks or months. Plus, I don’t have to schlep and store gasoline:

This tree fell across the main road where our little street meets the main road. Traffic backed up for two-hours:

After the road was cleared, the local Civil Defense and firefighters posed for a group photo:

This was a very hard and dense tree. Cleanup took three men with chainsaws three-days:

A backhoe will have to remove the stump.

You never know what will take out a power line or pole. This truck missed a nearby curve and plummeted down a steep embankment. Driver emerged shaken and embarrassed but unharmed. This seems like the perfect place to state, “It could have been worse.”

Photo not by me. It was forwarded on our neighborhood WhatsApp group.

This Hat Has Something To Say: And it ain’t nice:

Stick Bug On Window Screen:

New BBQ Grill: BBQ grills don’t last long here in the tropical humidity. At least not the last three or four or five that we have owned. Our last one gave up the ghost well before the three-year mark. Here is our new one on the left, a very-highly rated Weber Spirit II, three burner. I’m anxious to see how it does over time. The outgoing one is on the right:

The one on the right looks good at first blush, and I won’t mention the brand name, but take a look under the hood:

Yup. Fewer than three years.

Every morning, pickup trucks selling fresh fish come up the mountain from the beach. On their way back down the mountain, they often call out that they are collecting recyclables. Here are the guys from one truck hacking away at what is left of the old grill:

I scavenged the lid handle and the wheels. Little else remains. The spoils will be cremated. Hardly a ringing endorsement for this brand.

Food: We’ve been eating the Keto diet for at least seven-years now. Here’s a typical breakfast for me; bacon, four eggs (organic, free-range, local) fried in bacon fat, with my homemade hot sauce and a couple pats of butter on top:

Here is my strawberry/habanero hot sauce fermenting for a month. We grew the habaneros in the greenhouse. By the way, I always thought that there was a Spanish ñ in habanero, as there is in jalapeño. But there isn’t! –

The vents let the ferment gas escape without letting oxygen get into the jars. I put vodka in the vents to keep nasties from growing in them.

It yielded about a hundred-ounces of hot sauce. It starts out sweet in your mouth, then the heat builds. Medium-hot on food:

Two of a dozen eight-ounce jars.

I always have my homemade fermented sauerkraut in the refrigerator, too. Also, Cynthia makes a very tasty tomatillo-jalapeño salsa (right front). She likes it on her breakfast eggs, and lots of other things too! –

Here’s the first harvest of Swiss Chard from the greenhouse. I made the little table from aluminum scrapped from the old range hood:

View Of Our House from the lot next to us:

House on the left, greenhouse in the middle, my new studio on the right. It’s kind of as if we are in a jungle.

I’m Painting The House: Not much more than a year ago, I painted most of the house. I wanted to change from the paint I had been using because it prematurely peeled off the house. But the paint I chose to use a year ago is even worse! Both paints were oil-based polyurethane. Now I am sanding all the loose paint off the walls, windows, and doors, then pressure washing, then painting anew. I think the new paint I chose will last several years; It’s a Sherwin Williams oil-based alkyd paint, Industrial, System 4000 Enamel. With just a small amount of mineral spirits, it spreads very well (no brush marks) with a three-inch brush. The house is looking like new again — ask me in a year how well it is lasting:

And Finally: I like this photo of Armando working on my new studio floor. Cynthia and my studios are the subject of my next post. I promise to post it sooner than a year:

Cynthia and I send our greetings and well wishes to you all. We hope that you are faring well in this awkward pandemic time.

It’s been a year, and I am surprised at how much we’ve accomplished given the circumstances.

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

15 thoughts on “Holy Cow! It’s Been A Year?

  1. Lovely to catch up on what you are doing down there! The projects are very impressive even if I don’t understand some of them. I particularly liked the various photo projects and, of course, Winston.

  2. fred, thanks for the update. glad you got that tooth taken care of, as it’s the kind of thing that leads to other ailments. stay healthy. d

  3. I’ve had a couple of “blue” days.
    But tonight, when I opened my email, a big grin came to my face. I mumbled “It’s Fred”, even before I opened the message.
    You brightened my evening. Thanks.
    Great photos. You didn’t show any of your paintings from th,ast year (except the house 🙂
    The wall, with your framed photos, has a very pleasant colorful impact against the sunbathed light colored wall.
    Anxious to read more about how the greenhouse/aquaculture system is working.
    The vegetation, surrounding the house, has really
    matured, in the last few years.
    As always, it’s a pleasure to hear from you.
    Scott

  4. So nice to hear from you. Our daughter always had
    to take an antibiotic before a dentist visit because bacteria is released when the teeth are worked on and can affect the heart. She has had 3 heart valve replacements. So glad you stayed. The house looks great.
    Don in Reno

  5. It was so good to see all that you’re up to and that you are well after that close call. Glad Cynthia keeps an eye on you. You do have the most beautiful cat. The house is nice too. 🙂

  6. Hi Fred – Just in awe of your house and the effort/skills.
    I will be in Panama next week with family and would love to just see the house in person. I expect you probably have a bunch of random people on the internet asking stuff like that.
    I would not think of disturbing you ( unless ofcourse you are open to quick hello maybe ) – so any chance of some location info ?
    I am in New Jersey now and just visiting Panama with some thoughts on checking if it would work for us.

    Hoping you are not exhausted with internet people asking questions etc , but if you are I completely understand.
    Regards and thanks for all that information with its details !! It was probaly a good amount of work to do it
    ( its defintely inspired a few other people 🙂 )

    Cheers

    Vikram

  7. Great to hear that things are going well! I have followed your story for unite a few years and appreciate your willingness to share.

  8. Great to hear that things are going well! I have followed your story for quite a few years and appreciate your willingness to share.

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