Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sailors take warning

The dawns have taken on a more sinister cast the past couple of days. When we see lightning in the distance and thunderclouds building before the sun even comes up, we know we are probably in for another day of gnarly weather.

That is what it looked like at first coffee this morning. This is the same view a couple of hours later as the storms came looking for breakfast:

And yes, the second photo is from inside the house. I had just run out to stuff a t-shirt and a pair of socks in two of the drain holes in the deck area over the garage. Back in the sunny dry days of winter, I guess nobody ( me included) thought much about where all the water landing on that roof would go when the spring rains came. Well, now we know. The water falls directly down onto two of the garage doors, where the howling winds obligingly blow it into the garage and workshop. I am SO glad I built the two preliminary workbenches already. It let us put almost all of the garage stuff off the floor. While we did that primarily to make it easier to paint the floor, it also keeps all this "stuff" up out of the quarter inch of water that blew in under the doors yesterday. Here's a photo of one inlet of Lake Gringo, which was slowly subsiding. Until it started raining again.

We do think it would be great to have a pool, but not in the garage. There is one spot in the corner under my new workbench that was almost deep enough to jet-ski on yesterday. Well, that's probably an exaggeration. There's not enough room to get up on plane or turn it in there.

I was just there checking on it, and it appears that my t-shirt stuffed in the drain (immediately above this door outside) has helped tremendously. At last count, I now have a total of four t-shirts and one pair of socks stuffed into PVC pipes in this house to either keep the insects out or the water in. You think I am kidding, don't you...

Four T-Shirts....

And a pair of socks.

As I was out on the deck taking those silly photos, a real blast of rain squall came through. The wind was so strong it started trying to spin up a whirlpool right there on the top of the garage. La Gringa yells out "Hey! Take a movie!" so like the idiot and obedient husband I can sometimes be, I did. How's this for an illustration?:

And as I dashed back to the shelter of our roof overhang ( and what a good idea that turned out to be) I looked up and spotted four more idiots, on Wave Runners trying to make it back to the marina in the storm. They are the four specs out there on the water with the white streaks behind them, which were the only color streaks behind them that I could see from this distance:

I have no idea whether they are also obedient husbands. I can pretty much guarantee that they are wet.

After several exceedingly dry months it has started seriously raining this week. Three days in a row now. The squalls we went through on Sunday were just the beginning, it seems. Yesterday we had downpours every couple of hours, so heavy that we sent our adopted construction workers, Romeo and Patrick, home early. They could not get anything done anyway. The cisterns are near full to capacity, and we finally are getting to see how water erosion is going to affect the slope of the driveway fill. A scale version of the Grand Canyon is already forming right down the middle of it. I can see that we may have some kind of pavement in our future.

Yesterday morning we did make some progress before getting rained out. Tony brought his big Repo-man truck over and hauled away a lot of the building equipment that has been sitting next to the driveway. I had mentioned his truck before, because I was impressed with the two sets of air horns on the top of it. Tony told me he had already been warned by the police about how loud they were. He had six big chrome air horns driven by a dedicated compressor. I could imagine what it must have sounded like when he hit the button.

Yep, now there's 'only' three horns instead of six. I asked Tony what happened to the other set, and he said he had gotten a new truck and put the other set on top of that one. Business must be good.

Now, the yellow tank, a pile of scaffolding, an inoperable cement mixer, somebody's discarded truck tire, and a lot of the artistic construction debris touches we have been admiring alongside the driveway have been hauled away!

Oh, we still have a nice collection of empty five gallon buckets, broken cement pavers, and useless lumber up there. But the view is improving. And progress on the house does continue even though it is not fast enough for us. I compiled an updated 'punch-list' yesterday, which ran two pages. Sigh.

But we are not the only people on the street with new construction issues. A few weeks ago, for example, we noticed that a big wall between a house and the road had been bulldozed down. We are assuming that the people who built the house had put the wall too close to the road, and had been told to move it.

The original wall here was about three or four feet to the left of that traffic cone:

It was a nice wall, but it was too close to the road, and made this a narrow, blind corner to boot. They did a nice job with the new one. We thought.

A crew of Haitians worked like gangbusters for about a week, and built this completely new wall about a dozen or so feet closer to the house. We were impressed, and thought "well, we might want to find out who did that wall for them, and hire them for some of the upcoming retaining wall work we are going to need". We were watching for the painters to show up to finish the job. They didn't get the chance.

Over Easter weekend, about twenty feet of the middle of that wall fell out into the roadway:

That must have been an interesting sound, that much block, concrete, and dirt fill falling away just a few feet from the corner of the porch landing. I hope it didn't happen in the middle of the night. It must have made a huge crash.

The same crew of masons was back on the job within a couple days, rebuilding it.

All this rain over the past two days is what got me to thinking about that wall, though. I would assume the repaired section is tied more firmly to the rock of the hillside.....but I wonder about the sections to either side that were built to the original plan. I won't be spending much time dawdling next to this wall when driving by, that's for sure. Especially now that hydraulics might come into play.

So that's basically what's been happening in our lives the last couple of days. Watching the workers hiding from the rain while they talk to their girlfriends on their cell phones, making lists of things that need to be finished, fixed, or removed, and watching the dog try to find someplace in the new house that is thunder-proof. As I write this he is doing his best impression of a miserable, shivering, terrified ball of fur that can only find some small measure of peace by sitting on my feet.

I have managed to find a schematic diagram for the boat's trim tab system on the internet ( all the manuals were lost by the shipping company) and will be tackling that job. When the rain stops. Today I think I may take on the installation of an under-cabinet microwave, after I kayak down the driveway to the indoor pool (formerly known as a garage) for some power tools. Can stick up some photos of that if anyone is interested. I think outside photos are going to be a wash today ( ha ha ha ha ha ha....sorry...)


Anonymous said...

I like the everyday life, stories.. at least you are still on that wonderful Island. soon LaGringa and you will be out again looking for treasure! We can only hope to see the adventure.

heinz said...

truly enjoying your posts. I have no real skills whatsoever (no idea what a trim tab is, etc.) so I am very impressed with you move. You blog has led to my wife and me (and two children) deciding to visit TCI for our next vacation. thank you

Anonymous said...

We are glad to see some people are still reading it! It's been really frustrating to suddenly get so tied to this house. At least we are finishing it during the winter, when wind keeps us near shore anyway. The list of things to do is mind-numbing.

Heinz, how old are the kids? If they like ocean and beaches...this is a real good place. There's some other stuff to do, too.

Malicious Intent said...

Wow, that wall deal was insane. I feel bad for those home owners. I think building anything near the sea is hard, the elements are always there to remind you that mohter nature is boss!

Your friends sculpture is incredible. One piece of wood? That is really awesome.

heinz said...

Ours are 3 & 8 (both boys) and love the beach, plus my wife is from Hawaii, so we all love the beach and fishing.


La Gringa said...

Obedient husband??? hahahahaha... yea RIGHT!!!