In The Kitchen Plus This, That, And The Other

I know, I know. I haven’t posted in a few weeks now. I usually take Sundays off and write a post, but the last two Sundays I have been consumed with getting Cynthia into her new kitchen.

Last Sunday night she cooked her first meal in the new kitchen. There are still many, many details to go, but at least she is out of the wind and all her equipment and supplies are now in the same room. Here is how she had to cook in the camp kitchen:


You can see that I had to hang a tarp so that the wind wouldn’t blow out the burners.

On the checklist, the gas is now piped to the kitchen stove, the kitchen water heater, plus the clothes dryer and the water heater for the bedroom part of the house. I’ve installed the sink and the faucet. I installed the dishwasher. I installed the new gas range. I built an exhaust hood (but I still have to install the motor). I did a bunch of electrical wiring, and I grouted the floor.

Here are some photos as the kitchen is now:


Note the electrical receptacles and switches mounted in the side of all the island cabinets. At the bottom of the aluminum siding on this cabinet you can see that we are experimenting with frosted glass for the baseboards. It would apply nicely with silicone adhesive. We’ll see.

Here’s the new American Range and the hood that I built using my DIY homemade sheet metal bending brake. Also, check out the shine on the concrete counters:


Here we are installing the exhaust hood. Armando and Francisco are holding it in place as I drive screws up into the beam at the ceiling:


Here is an overview shot of the kitchen. Cynthia chose a charcoal gray paint for the end of the container. The TV will be mounted on that wall. We will have a love seat backed up to the third island:


We can’t wait to get more color in the kitchen. Just the addition of the two placemats makes a huge difference. Cynthia is going to make some colorful slumped-glass lights to hang from the beams. Her supplies are in the mail and on their way.

The electrical took some extra doing. It is not unheard of (understatement) for electrical spikes to happen, taking out expensive appliances along the way. (At one of the rentals that we lived in, some wires got crossed on an electrical pole, sending 220-volts down a 110-volt line and into the house, blowing out all the light bulbs, a microwave, refrigerator, stereo, and a TV!)

At the electrical panel, I wired receptacles where I could plug wiring from the stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, coffee maker, etc. into circuit protectors. Like this:


The two boxes at the left of the circuit panel are controls for the well pump. After I finish all the electrical, I’ll build an aluminum enclosure around all the electrical stuff. As a redundancy to the plug-in circuit protectors, I’ll also wire in a whole-house voltage protector at the main circuit panel.

Here is the floor all grouted. I made a custom mix by combining “cocoa” colored grout with “terra cotta” colored grout. It really isn’t visible to the casual eye:


Another little detail that I had to take care of is where the open shipping container doors on container #1 meet the container. There is a space from floor to ceiling that had to be closed:


I bent some aluminum scrap on my brake and caulked and riveted it into place:


In other news, I have measured for all the glass in the dining room/living room and we have placed our order. The glass should arrive in about a week. But before I install the glass, I want to paint all the trim around the windows. But what color? Way back, we decided to paint the house a dark gray/green with black trim. But the good part about building over such a long period of time is that you can change your mind without having to redo a lot of work! So now we have chosen a lighter body color for the house, a gray, sea-foam minty green, if you will, with a darker green for the trim. Yesterday I sprayed a gallon of the new body color on the wall by the front door and started priming the galvanized metal window frames. I had to quit because the wind picked up and put more paint in the air than on the metal.

Here is a photo of the wall. To me, it looks more blue than green on my monitor. But it really is on the green side of the spectrum so what you see may not be what is:


Remember those clay pots that a neighbor gave us? The guys cleaned them and Cynthia and I bought some plants. They look good on the front landing.

Here is a closeup of the plants in the new pots:


With the dry season rapidly passing, it was time to get some outside welding done. When we built the perimeter fence, it was raining too much to weld on the pipe at the top of the fence. Aramis, the welder that worked for us for six months, has other work, but he recommended his godfather, Ramiro. Here is Ramiro hard at work rapidly completing the fence:


Armando and Francisco have their hands full with an outside project that will make a huge difference. Before, our back yard was all but unusable because if you walked in the grass, you would be eaten alive by the no-seeums. We want to have more garden and less no grass. So Armando and Francisco are creating a path that will go all the way around the house:

Here is a photo from the second floor before they have laid any rock:



Step one is to remove the grass with a pickaxe. Step two, dig a shallow trench for a foundation for the rocks borders. Step three, build the rock borders. Step four, put down weed cloth and bring in gravel for the walkway. Step five, plant plants and more plants. Jabo knows that there is an armadillo or an opossum under the house…


Jabo can now patrol the entire property. Before, he understood that if he went in the grass that he would come out with ticks. Now he runs the path like a race car driver.


The back garden was looking kind of sad, so I bought a few drip irrigation hoses and an automatic timer. Now the garden stays well watered and is doing much better:


We still want to fill in the empty spaces with a few more plants.

Here are some closeup shots:


This is the torch plant starting to open.


Here it is more open.

Cynthia’s favorite is the Heliconia:


Remember Victor, that man who drilled our water well? He and I have stayed in touch. From time to time he needs help finding a part for his antique drilling rig. He tells me what he needs and I take to the Internet to find it and to talk to the vendor in English. I recently gave him two leads to nearby people who need his services, and the other day he stopped by with a couple orchid sprigs for us. He was on his way to a lake in El Valle to set free the box turtle that he had had for five years. “He needs a girlfriend,” he said.

Cynthia asked Victor how his wife is (for proper etiquette in Panama, you always ask how a person’s family is, even if you have never met the family). With a big smile and a laugh Victor replied, “GORDA!” What a joie de vivre he has!

Here is Victor with his turtle:

P1000942Victor also told us (and has photos on his phone to prove it) about the small yellow bird that has returned to his house every year for seven years. The wild bird eats bread and milk out of his hand. We like Victor.

It’s been a busy two weeks since my last post. It seems to me that I have used every tool that I own, but still nothing is done! It goes like that sometimes. But that’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by.

18 thoughts on “In The Kitchen Plus This, That, And The Other

  1. Hello guy`s , still watching the posts , still enjoying all building and other posts , Cyn must be a happy woman now the kitchen is coming together , (Is that a sexist male comment ?) wasn’t meant to be . anyway , things are really moving , stay safe and a happy new year to you both , kind regards , Mike in Perth ,West Oz ,

  2. Love the kitchen. Little color splashes really make it pop. Cynthia will be able to cook in a bikini (or less) now.
    The pathway or Jabotrack looks awesome.
    Next time you are headed over the hill to Buen Appitito give me a call. Love to join you.


  3. OMGoodness, this post is totally amazing! You are both amazing and Fred–your skills and outta the box problem solving is totally amazing.
    We’ll be gone for a few weeks but want to come for a $2 tour when we get back, OK? Joan & John

  4. Sir.

    Just to said, that you are doing an spectacular job. Are you a retired contractor, or something alike?

    Your house is spectacular.


  5. Hi Fred and Cynthia, everything is coming together nicely, what talent you two display. Very nice to see! Perhaps I will visit Alexia again in the future and get to see the completed project. You have really done so much since August when I visited. Congratulations!

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