Yet More Glass Block And Tile…

In the unplanned work department — Cynthia and I returned home from our vacation at 9:00 p.m. on a Tuesday night. At 10:30 p.m. a petty thief climbed over our back fence, I don’t know, perhaps to welcome us home, and was making his way into the yard. Jabo spotted him and gave chase, the man re-vaulting the fence and vanishing into the jungle. Cynthia spotted him too, and yelled at him with such vigor that she lost her voice for two days! All the while I was happily singing in the shower.

This is the umpteenth time this has happened so I decided it was time to raise the ante and install some razor wire on the two jungle-abutting sides of our property. The razor wire is also known as concertina wire, or here in Panama, Alambre (wire) de Gillette. Most times this wire is strung at the top of a fence, but we decided to hang it mid-way on the fence; at the top of the fence the thief could just cut the cyclone fence and slip through. At mid-height, the wire is so low that Sr. Thief can’t get under it and so high that he can’t get over it. At least not without risking being sliced and diced by the razors. With some care he might be able to get over the wire, but in a hurry and in the dark it would provide an impediment to an elegant and bloodless escape. Also, at mid-height it doesn’t look quite so much like a prison wall. We’ll see, ask me in a year if it worked. Eventually, plants will hide the wire from our view on this side of the fence:


You can see the concertina wire on the other side of the fence.

Because of the schedule disruption around our vacation, Hanibal has been trying to juggle two jobs — ours plus another in town — so progress is a bit slow. But he has completed the second glass block wall in the master bathroom — well almost — we still need to form and pour concrete borders around the open edges of the blocks:


The 1/4″ rebar sticking out from the mortar joints will be embedded in the concrete surround to give stability to the wall. A length of this rebar runs in each mortar joint.

And looking in the other direction, Armando is working his way to the top of the stone wall in the shower. When the wall is done, he will wash it with muriatic acid to remove the mortar film from the rocks,then we will use a sealer so it has a “wet look”:   P1010753-001For our next project, Hanibal and I moved into the bathroom off the second bedroom. We tiled the walls and Bolivar grouted:


As in the master bathroom, we planned the tile installation for minimum cutting and a cleaner look at the shower valve and shower head.


Bolivar grouts the wall.

Today, Hanibal and Bolivar set the level of the floor in the second bedroom bath, sloping the floor toward the shower drain:


In my spare time I have been doing a bit of painting. Cynthia decided that the walk-in closet would look better with white walls, so I applied a couple coats of paint. I still need to build a few more shelves and apply some baseboards: P1010751-001


It is nice to have the new tile under foot rather than the rough, dusty concrete. And on the left, check out Cynthia’s Pre-sort Central laundry baskets. So much for a man to learn. 

And I’ve started painting the big wall in the living room. We selected a middle gray that will go well with the stonework and the tile and dark gray wall on the other side of the room:


The wall will look good with some art hanging on it. And Bob finally wandered into a photo…

So far Hanibal and I have used about two pallets of tile, enough so that Cynthia and I could clean up around the remaining materials. It has been a long time since we could use the stairs in front of my shop and there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Before, what a mess:

P1010553We cleaned the area and I took a truckload of cardboard and plastic bottles to the recycle center in town. After:


Jabo practicing his Salutation To The Sun yoga pose. Either that or he is doing a Maori Haka war dance.

And now it is my turn — Cynthia has turned out a slew of slumped glass lampshades for the kitchen lights. Now I need to get busy, drill a hole in the top of each one, install lamp sockets, and hang the lights. It will be good to see them hanging from the kitchen ceiling. Wish me luck…:


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

16 thoughts on “Yet More Glass Block And Tile…

  1. Just making us smile this morning, even though we are back in Florida for a while. WOW again … all looking great! However, dont despair Fred, about learning new things from women’s different logic … its all good!

  2. Fred, you and Cynthia continue to amaze us with this fabulous project. You have made tremendous progress since our visit several weeks ago. It’s amazing that your had the wonderful trip to Medellin and then “hit the ground running” when you returned even with the delay with the installation of the concertina wire. The location mid-way in the cyclone fence sounds like an excellent idea.
    Can’t wait for the next Home Tour in Nov.
    Your amigos, Joan y John

  3. Hi Joan y John,

    Hitting the ground running is the only way I’m ever going to complete this projecto grande sin final!

    In November, I hope to have the master bedroom floor done, along with the two bathrooms. But we’ll have to wait to see what the Law of Shifting Priorities brings our way.

    Thanks for your comment Joan. Fred

  4. I wonder how much of a deterrent cameras (perhaps Internet connected ones) are. Especially when one is away for extended periods and there is plenty of time to cut fencing and locks.

    My experience has been that motion lights don’t work very well in the heat and with the wind moving branches.

    • Hi Jon,

      We had cameras at our last rental house and have just installed them here. My experience with them is that they are not of much use at a distance in the dark of night. So placement very near where a thief would pass is critical.

      I recently installed a dusk-to-dawn LED lamp at the front of the house, illuminates a dark corner away from the streetlight. We have several motion-sensor lights in the back yard and they are working well, few false alarms unless as you say leaves swaying in the breeze. And of course, we have people stay here when we are away.

      By the way, the thieves who canvased our old house didn’t seem to be very bothered by the cameras, perhaps they didn’t know they were there. Regards, Fred

  5. Hi Fred,

    when I read your post about your trip to Colombia, my first thought was, “who’s watching the house?” Here in Chile, I cannot leave the house unattended, even in a gated community, since my property is on the perimeter. Even though we have never actually had a break-in, some of our neighbors have… but I beleive that it is because we have a better perimeter fence that some of the others… we have what they call an Acma fence… basically a steel framed, steel mesh (something like they use to reinforce concrete see ) with razor wire along the toop, and more recently, about 3 meters high of briar and blackberry vines. The only problem I have now is that we now have a very large family of rabbits that like to live under all the briar…

    Saludos from Chile,
    John, Ximena, Sarah, and little Emma.

  6. mmm rabbit stew , braised rabbit , rabbit pie , jugged rabbit , list is almost endless , on a lighter note the mulberries are going to be a bumper crop this year in west oz (in my front yard ) mmmm blackberry jam 🙂

  7. Fred,
    Perhaps you should plant a impenetrable hedge outside your back fence.
    Some NASTY deterrent such as Black palm / Nettle tree (Urera baccifera) / stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). Alternatively you can consider a holly or Euphorbia (crown of thorns) hedge, or even serrated leave pineapple plants…

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