Thursday, November 6, 2008

A grayscale week

This will be a short post. Or at least that is my intention. Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to shorten up the posts here. I generally just sort of try to scale them to the number of new photos we have. Then I try to write captions to explain the photos, and of course (me being a mouthy son-of-a-gun) sometimes my enthusiasm runs away with me and I end up typing more than I should. Probably. Last week, for example, I was pretty excited about the new boat. Still am, but I am trying very hard to keep a tight rein on it. I mean a 'caption' shouldn't really run into several paragraphs. Well, anyhow back to the subject of short posts, and after that explanation of sorts, the truth is that we have not been taking many photos lately. Whew. See what I mean? Mouthy. (And this isn't even a caption.)

The weather has been weird. We have had a week alternating with gray rainy days, and then gray days without rain. Mostly the latter, but enough rain that the cisterns remain full. We are keeping an eye on the late season Tropical Storm Paloma, which is just forming SW of here. We have had quite enough storm excitement for one year. Maybe enough for several years. A lifetime even.

We have been keeping an eye out for some good sunrise/sunset photos of course, but this week all I could come up with was this one:

The good news about this weather is that the sea is very calm. It could almost be a huge clear blue swimming pool, stretching out as far as the eye can see. With binoculars, even. There has been almost no wind for several days. That sunrise was not even typical, because the sky was fairly clear that particular morning. The average day this week has looked more like a big gray scale. Sometimes we cannot even tell where the horizon is:

That's the kind of day that used to drive me nuts flying small airplanes up in the Cape Cod area. Low time VFR pilots like to see horizons. It makes it so much easier to keep the airplane right side up when you can tell which way is up. Now one big difference between here and Cape Cod in November is the temperature. Last night, for example, it was 81 degrees at 7:00 PM, according to the little thermometer I finally unboxed and attached to a post in the house.

And all the windows are open, so that's the same temperature as outside. This is going to sound a little funny to people at high latitudes, but when it drops down into the mid 70's we feel a bit on the chilled side and start closing windows. Well, partially closing them. The only time in 2008 that all of our windows were cranked shut was during the hurricanes.

I put the (badly flashed) thermometer photo in there because I know the ocean photos are misleading with all that gray. It makes it look cold, and it's not. It's still tropical. The calm water does make for some nice reflected light if we get a cloud or something just right. This one was looking good, but by the time I noticed and then found a camera with a charged battery it was fading back to gray:

And of course that water really makes one think about skipping over the top of it in a boat. And hopping over the side with some snorkelling gear. I haven't checked the ocean temperature lately, but I suspect on this side of the island it will still be near 80, about the same as the air. The lowest we saw the ocean temp last winter was 74.

There have been a few little DIY things going on, but nothing much. I put the lizard-shaped thermometer up on the post primarily to aggravate Dooley the Delinquent Dog. He loves chasing lizards. Every now and then he catches one although we do try to discourage him. He's pretty tough on things he catches, including (but not limited to) rats, lizards, and tennis balls.

I cut a piece of the plastic that used to be part of our boat Cay Lime's console hatch and made a little spacer for the spare tire mount on the Land Rover. It was rattling against the tail gate and driving us nuts and denting the aluminum tailgate. I suppose I should spell it 'aluminium' if it's part of an English 4x4.

And some of the strong nylon lacing that once held canvas to the top of our T-top is now a set of boot laces that work better than the frayed originals:

(am I stretching for blog photos or what??)

We think we may have decided on a new home for Cay Lime, because with the new boat on the way it simply can't stay here taking up space. But there will be parts of it still around for a while. It's a good boat, trashed through no fault of its own. And it needs a new owner to fix it up and put it back to work. And I don't like looking at it in its present state. We need to put that ugly chapter behind us and move on. But in the meantime, we may as well cannibalize the boat parts that are done for.

Speaking of the boat, I was down at the marina yesterday looking for our friend Preacher. I wanted to ask him for some advice on what to do with this busted up hull. While there I looked over to the spot where Cay Lime ended up on the shore, and saw a familiar looking piece of aluminum. Sure enough,it was the rest of the t-top. The missing piece whose very absence was making me start to mentally haul the whole thing to the dump. I threw it into the truck and brought it home.

This is a bad habit of mine, this junk collecting. I can't help it. When I lived up North I had a weakness for found wood on the side of the road. I still do, but these days the glint of shiny aluminum or stainless steel also grabs my attention. This is some useful stuff!! Eventually. Or so I tell myself.

Now I have every piece of that T-top. I suppose it would be possible for someone with the expertise and equipment to actually repair it. Meanwhile, it's just more aluminum in the yard. Lot of head scratching going on here these days.

Another small project was hooking up a web cam outside La Gringa's office. She did all that herself, to be honest about it. She is the software lady here. I am kinda limited to hardware issues. It works out well, though. I did help position the camera on a convenient louvre facing the sunsets:

You can also see that there is no glass in the windows here. We just crank the louvers down when it's blowing rain. (Or when that chilly North wind brings the temp down to under 80 degrees.)

I was hoping for a decent sunset tonight to end this post with. I did not get one. The cosmic grayscale continues. Looking to the west I was reminded of something that has been rattling around in my head for some time now. As a result of this blog we get emails from time to time from people who are thinking of building a home in the tropics and know we just went through the whole process. So maybe this will be useful info for someone, somewhere.

What generated this little departure was this view that we see from our front door every day:

(That is also pretty much the view from La Gringa's sunset web cam too by the way.)

When we were looking at house designs we wanted something sturdy enough to withstand hurricanes. I guess I was looking for the tropical equivalent of a log cabin. You know, something solid. I knew that we would be building in steel reinforced concrete. I don't think a real log home would last three years here, unless it was some kind of wood that bugs, sun, salt and hurricanes refuse to eat. Not practical.

But in researching it I came across this design called monolithic dome construction. It fascinated me for a number of reasons, and I still think it is one example of an ideal construction technique for places like this. It's a very rugged building technique, and incredibly energy efficient as well.

I found some good examples on the internet, and am going to stick my neck out here and post one I lifted from a realtor's website online:

This one is famous in some circles. It was the only home on that stretch of Pensacola Beach to survive a hurricane. It has been featured on various television programs about cool architecture, etc. Here's another view:

(I DID try to email the owners for permission to use their photos, by the way. Undeliverable email address.)

Now that one is huge, three floors and a garage. One of the nice things about this design is that you can make it any size you want for practical purposes.

In any case, what keeps me thinking about this is that little hill right there in the photo looking west. I expanded that part of the image to show you what I am talking about:

Now see where I am going with this? Can't you just imagine finding a piece of property on the water like that, shaving the top of that little hill flat, and putting a dome house on it? One you designed specifically for the site? You have to use your imagination a little here, but it could look something like this:

If you painted it to match the terrain, I think it would be a really cool, solid, house. Just me thinking, and that's what happens down here without a boat to play with. But if anyone is interested in these dome houses just send us an email and I will link you up with what I have found during my own searches.

Okay, well...I started out saying I was going to keep this post short and then started rambling on again. Must be the excitement of knowing our boat should be leaving Florida tomorrow. Through Tropical Storm Paloma and down here Tuesday morning. And in anticipation of some fun trips, we have just ordered a new underwater camera to replace our last new underwater camera that we dare not get wet anymore. This will be our fourth underwater camera setup. Ah, but THIS time we also ordered an underwater housing to put the waterproof camera into. I think that's what the Brits call wearing 'braces and belt', meaning a backup plan to keep your pants from falling down.

I wish I had a fresh sunset photo for you, but we gotta wait out this gray period.

At least its warm. And the boat is on it's way.


Dsaltydog said...

I have followed this "post" from THT. Very enjoyable reading, somewhat like we are with you. Keep up the "thread", truly enjoying the ride.
FWIW i had a 25 like the one you were given, you will adore it.

Anonymous said...

Gringo Glad to hear you will be back on the water soon. Good things happen to good people. What is the link to the web cam? Brian

Anonymous said...

Right now she is only turning the webcam on in time for sunset. I guess it has been locking up her laptop. We have some semi-busted laptops around,waiting on keyboards and display backlights and the plan is to dedicate one of those to the webcam after I fix it. I think. She's software. I am the wrench,hammer, power tool guy.

The address for the webcam is:

Denise - ABQ said...

I use this house in an architecture lesson I do with my art students...

Anonymous said...

Keep on ramblin' Gringo, we love it.

Looks like the hillock you'd sit that house on is behind the left-most tree in the web cam scene.

Is it always that breezy there?


Anonymous said...

I remember that house on PB. The angle the side photo was taken reminds me of the good old solid VW Beetle.

Captain Dubble

Anonymous said...

The first sunset picture is so bright and vibrant that it lit up my living room! Beautiful! And, I totally agree..the house looks SO like a VW bug!


Anonymous said...

yes, it is usually very breezy here. Our property is facing into the Trade Winds, which pretty much blow from the NE every day of the year except for those days when storms or other passing weather systems change it around. But that never lasts more than a day or two and it's back to the breeze. And being located on the first little rise of land that the wind mass hits after coming straight and level across the water, we get an accelerated breeze as it is forced up the side of the little hill. Its one of the reasons we keep looking at wind power technology. We have wind night and day. We are still learning to live with it. For example, with the windows all open and the sliders, if one is not careful where one puts down a newspaper, one will shortly find said newspaper disassembled and blown all over the house. Any sheet of paper, for that matter.

the upside, of course, is that we do not need airconditioning in this house, ever. I guess I could truly say that we are really immersed in the local environment.