05 October, 2018

Let's See Now, Where Were We?

Last time I posted about the patio palapa, the project had barely gotten started and that post was on 24 September 2018.

I suppose it would be better to give a brief synopsis of the project from the beginning.

Getting thatch from the bush, where you have to get it, has become expensive. The plants are still further into the bush and are becoming scarce, so it was time to rethink roofing materials.

We were very happy with the way the parking palapa turned out, so we thought, continue with a good idea for this.
What It Looked Like To Start
It was really looking raggedy and neglected. We waiting about as long as we could. Any more, and the lumber used for the structure would begin to rot before our eyes, and we'd be looking at completely starting over. So this was the perfect time.

Mario's crew, the same guys who redid our pool and its enclosure, were just finishing up a house for Sonja and Dan, friends of ours, building over in Ranchito near the airstrip.

We like their work, and attention to detail, so hiring them was really an easy decision.

Lots of Air Vents
I think in places, there was more air and daylight than thatch. It gave us a good indicator that it was time, time, time to get something done.

They got started removing the thatch and broken wood. That took pretty much all of the first day.

Once all the thatch was gone and the patio swept, it almost looked presentable again.

Framing Started
With things cleaned up, it looks nice.

You can see that the framing for the soffit area (I guess) and the framing for the screens which will go floor to ceiling is underway.

We have a ceiling fan that only works slowly. I suspect its capacitor is failing. It was in the utility room off the kitchen and has spent the past few months in a box.

Dianna suggested we replace the lantern chandelier with the fan and light because there are times when we used to use the palapa, where there was no breeze. It becomes stifling, and a fan might just do the trick to make it a nice, relaxing reading and relaxing nook.

Tool Repair

As with most tools down here, things break. One of their cordless drills, with a keyless chuck, naturally broke. Not good timing. Almost everything with this project involves screws, so it was really needed.

Forty-five minutes work, and it was back functioning again. I don't know if they were able to repair the chuck or if it required a replacement from Lano's Hardware.

Adding More Varnish
The next step after getting all the lumber in place was to apply a liberal dose of varnish.

Of course, when they started that, they were only able to do a partial coat when it started to rain. The rain continued off and on for three days.

Even after it stopped, it still took most of a day to dry the lumber out enough to be able to apply more varnish.

Screen Framing Done Too

Getting some real progress now. It's looking almost like it's time for the zinc roof to be installed.

But wait, there's more. I'm sure the framing for the screens will need a coat or two of the varnish.

I Think There's More To Do
Refilling a painting cup must mean that more varnish has to be applied.

That's what they're doing this afternoon. It was really doubtful that they'd be able to work this afternoon.

The forecast was calling for more rain and thunderstorms all afternoon.

25 September, 2018

Something About a Well-Packed Bowl

I don't know if you remember 'head' shops, those funky little places where you could buy bongs, and glass or metal pipes, roach clips, UV reactive posters, all sorts of stuff like that that was designed to enhance your 'high.'

Then, after a couple of years, and lots of busts, they pretty much disappeared from view. Not necessarily all gone, just not anywhere as plentiful as there had been. That is, until now. They're all over the intertubes. It's like the internet has become a giant head shop.

Now, before you jump to conclusions, allow me to 'splain.' Many years ago, I used to smoke a pipe. Tobacco pipes, to be exact. I had a nice collection of pipes, and all the tools and other accouterments that went along with tobacco pipe smoking. Then, I gave it up. Sold my collection and all the other stuff.

Till now. I've had a hankering to take up pipe smoking once again. I guess you could say, that monkey never left my shoulder. That may be. But, I do miss playing with pipes, and of course, I miss the taste and the smell of a fine blend of pipe tobacco.

So, I began looking on the intertubes and using Google. That's where the headshop analogy came in. Everybody is selling bongs, glass pipes, metal pipes, rolling papers, rolling machines, etc., etc., etc. You actually have to look somewhat carefully to find websites dealing exclusively with tobacco and pipes.

Back in the day, my favorite tobacconist was Tinderbox, and my favorite blend as North Seas. Well, lo and behold, they're still in business (https://www.tinderbox.com/) and, they still sell North Seas. What a find! But, there's also some other fine pipe shops online. For example, Smoking Pipes.com (https://www.smokingpipes.com/). Their motto: 'Fresh Pipes Served Daily.'

Smoking Pipes carries an amazing line of pipes and tobaccos. Their pipes are gorgeous, but range a bit too upscale for my smoke. Their tobaccos, many of which are available in traditional tins, is really a world-class selection.

So, I needed to find a more economical sourse. What better place online for used stuff than eBay? There's nothing wrong with used tobacco pipes. In the pipe world, they're referred to as 'estate' pipes. You can score significant savings on eBay by participating in auctions. It's easy and fun. Sometimes too easy and too fun.

The only downside, once you've scored an estate pipe, is the rehabilitation of the pipe you just won. But, that's part of the fun of pipes. Sooner or later, you have to overhaul or rehab pipes that you might have purchased new, so it's chance to practice new skills, and the plus side, is that you end up with a pipe, that is as good as new, but cost you significantly less.

Here's the pipes I got on eBay:

A little cleaning and some polishing and this one should be one cool smoke. I'm looking forward to this one for some reason. I just like its lines.
Butz Choquin Dauphine Rhodesian

This one, I'm really taken with the shape. It's light, a few slight dings around the bowl, and the stem needs some TLC, but when it's done, should also be a fine smoke.
Bruce Peters Bent Billiard

I had an Oom Paul (Dutch for Uncle Paul) meerschaum years ago. I loved it. This will be a close second once it's cleaned and shined up.
Wally Frank Red Root Oom Paul

I'm still waiting for this one to arrive via USPS and Belize Post. It was really cheap and even better, it's unsmoked. Right out of the box, fire that puppy up.
Bando Full Bent Apple Briar

Then, this bomber. My bid of $7.00 US was the winning bid. Wow. It looks massive but is quite light, and like the Bando above, has never been smoked. Even cooler, it came all the way from Poland!
Oom Paul Freehand Briar
By Nowakowski, Poland

Now, I'm just waiting on tools, pipe cleaners, a reamer, some stem wax, and a pot of carnauba wax. That'll get me started for sure.

As for a fire starter, there's a ton of butane or Zippo-type lighters out there, but I'm a purist, as far as pipe smoking goes. I like matches. I've got two full packs of 10 boxes of matches, ready to go. I'd like to eventually get some sulfur-free matches. They improve the taste a bit, and you don't have to wait for the sulfur to burn off.

Oh, yes. The other important part that I'm waiting for is tobacco. That's kind of necessary with this hobby. I've ordered six tins of tobacco from Smoking Pipes.

First Three Tins
Second Three Tins
All six come highly recommended. I'm looking forward to giving each of them a try or two.

A quick note about importing tobacco into Belize. It ain't easy - or cheap. The duty is 100% for starters, then there's GST (Goods and Services Tax) and probably an environmental fee. Thankfully, each is only about 1.5 ounces so the overall cost will be bearable, or smokable, as the case may be. The tobacco won't show up till next month (October) sometime.

24 September, 2018

Patio Palapa - Labor Commences

Carlos and I were out in the parking area assembling the last of 12 'tomato' cages (we'll use 'em for lots of other things) when I noticed Endher's truck parked just outside the utility gate.

Finishing De-Thatching
 I was surprised at just how fast the last of the thatch was pulled down, and how soon the guys got the patio all cleaned up.

At my suggestion, the debris was tossed over the fence into Mike and Steph's yard. Mario's crew is under strict orders to clean up all the debris and remove it.

Carlos is keeping a close eye on things as maintaining their yard is his responsibility. They'll also be bringing in whatever lumber they need for the project the same way. Otherwise, it's a long walk around our house to dump debris into the truck or to bring in the lumber.

Endher and Mario Planning
 Endher and Mario discussing how to do the framing. I want the look and feel underneath to be similar to the parking palapa, so those skinny sticks, for the most part, will be staying.

There's also going to be screening, just like in the pool enclosure, but we'll get to that when that part arrives.

Croc in the Canal
There's no shortage of supervisors either. Here you can see one of our local residents (inside the red circle) taking an interest in the goings-on.

This is a juvenile croc, probably around five to six feet in length. He cruises past our place at least once a week. It's either this one or another juvenile that spends a lot of his/her time under the fishing pier across the canal from us.

Whenever I backwash the pool, which empties into the canal, the croc scoots across the canal and keeps his nose right next to the marl cloud released as part of the backwash process. Sniffing a potential meal no doubt.

Cutting Compound Angles
This afternoon, the guys have been spending their time getting angles cut in preparation for setting a facia board (may not be the correct term, but it'll do). It's basically going to be a six-sided structure surrounding the old palapa.

Hanging Palapa Lamp
 Here's the old metal lantern lamp that hangs from the center peak of the palapa. It will be reinstalled as soon as possible to keep it from getting damaged.

Little Better View of the Angles
This photo gives you a little better idea of the angles involved. Of course, nothing is even all the way around, so it becomes tricky.

Also, all day today, we've dealt with thunder, lightning, and periods of rain. Since a woman in Ranchito having been recently killed in her backyard by lightning, safety is more on everyone's mind than normal.