12 November, 2017

Benefit of Paying the Paradise Tax

One of the benefits of paying the paradise tax (See the post, http://www.winjama.net/2017/10/paradise-tax-example.html), is that sometimes you get a real benefit that happens as a result.

For example, a couple weeks ago, the dogs erupted, as they do, to announce either someone riding by Casa Winjama on a bicycle or perhaps someone stopping at the gate. I looked up from my iPad to see what the ruckus was all about.

There were a couple of teenage girls with their bicycles at the gate, hollering "Good Ahfternoon," the way most Belizeans do. So, I shut down the iPad where I had been deeply engrossed in  Neal Stephenson's SciFi novel, Seveneves.

When I got to the gate, I wasn't sure if they were looking for a donation to some cause or the other, or were looking to sell me something, which could be, based on our past experience, anything from artwork, in the form of wood carvings or paintings, babysitting, the odd iguana or crocodile, or perhaps rice and beans with stew chicken dinners to support a school, church, or similar organization. You just never have an idea of what may come up when you approach the gate.

It was a nice surprise this time when the girls asked if I wanted to buy some pork, as they were butchering a pig the following day. This took me completely by surprise. I almost said 'no thanks,' but luckily, I maintained a bit of presence of mind and said "sure." This was simply because I happened to think of our chest freezer, which I had just, a couple of days before cleaned a lot of ice out of it and wiped the insides down with bleach water and a sponge, so I knew it was empty and ready to be restocked.

The next question they asked was, what I wanted. I was so nonplussed, I really couldn't think of any cuts of pork, so I asked for some 'leg meat.' Now, in the States, that would have probably earned me a sneer and a "What kind of cut is that?" - type question. Here in Belize, the girls simply asked how much I wanted. I replied that about three pounds would be nice.

They then told me it would be $6.00 BZD per pound and that it would be delivered tomorrow around 11:00 AM. They asked for my name, and away they went.

Move forward to the following day. I hear a couple of voices out by the gate calling "Mr. Dave, Mr. Dave." It was the girls from the previous day. I noted that our crack security team didn't even let out a peep. They must have decided that since I talked to the girls yesterday, that they were now old friends and didn't need any alerting to the household.

Anyway, they had my three pounds of 'leg meat,' nicely bagged in a black plastic shopping bag. I gave them the $18.00 BZD and took possession of the bag of meat.

They asked if I wanted anything else. This time, having talked to Dianna, I was able to sound a bit more with it, when I asked if we could get a rack of ribs. They answered sure, but not until Saturday, when they would be butchering another pig. Did I want the whole rack was the next question? I said sure to this as well. They told me it would cost more. I understood and that was ok. And, away they went.

Saturday comes, and so does 11:00 AM. No girls. But, it's Belize, so no need to panic. Along about noon, I hear the girls called once again. My pep talk to the security team paid off, with a rousing round of woofing as I walked to the gate.

They have a five-gallon plastic bucket full of a coiled rack of ribs that was huge. It had to weigh on the order of 25 or 30 pounds. Tons of meat. It cost $122.00 BZD and was a bargain at that price. I transferred the rack to a large stainless bowl that is part of my InstaPot Pressure Cooker. Having no other place to keep it, I plopped into the freezer. I rinsed out the girl's bucket and gave it back to them for orders for Christmas hams and such. Perfect.

Our friends, Bruce and Colleen were coming over later in the afternoon to play Mexican Train (a dominoes game). Dianna and I had talked earlier in the day, that if the ribs showed up, and they were OK, then we would have ribs for dinner. Otherwise, we'd order pizza from Blue's.

Several days before, I had stumbled on a recipe online for instant pot baby back ribs that for whatever reason, had intrigued me. It took me a while to find it again (https://www.iwashyoudry.com/instant-pot-baby-back-pork-ribs/), and then to print it out.
Ribs Coming Out of the InstaPot
Photo Thanks to Bruce Steege

Ribs Ready to Disappear
Photo Thanks to Bruce Steege
This was a to-die-for meal, and an extremely easy recipe to use. Two-thumbs up on the recommendation for this one. Thanks to Bruce for helping prepare the meal and to Colleen for taking the lead on clean-up, and to everyone on the consumption part of the thing.
Three-Fourths of the Crew - Colleen, Dianna, and Dave
Photo Thanks to Bruce Steege (Behind the Camera)

09 November, 2017

The Proof Is In the Pool

If there was ever any doubt as to how effective 'Huey,' our Hayward Pool Vac Ultra was at doing his job in the pool, maybe these two photos will set your mind at ease.

Because the pool was too cold for several days, or weeks, I never ventured into the pool. There were some other problems like the main pool pump has been sucking air through a minuscule crack in its case (that I can't find), and other things like the solar heater pump not working, etc., etc.

Anyway, suffice it to say, that the pool didn't get the attention lately that it needed. As a consequence, we had an algae bloom that grew quickly. I dosed the pool with algicide. That was fine, but I needed to be able to vacuum the detritus from the algae to make the bottom and sides of the pool appear pristine once again.

Since the pump was sucking air, when it shut off, it tended to blow Huey off his hose, which meant I would have to go into the water to retrieve him and reconnect him to the hose.

The dead algae left an even coating over the whole bottom of the pool and the sides as well. I decided I needed to let Huey do his thing, and since he was working and showing how well he worked, I thought it behooved me to take a photo or two to show just how well he was working.

Huey Hard At Work
Yes, I still have to go around and brush down the pool sides, and hand vacuum the spa and steps, but that's like an hour job for the whole thing.
Different View, Still Working
After all that, I have to backwash the filter to get rid of the dead algae that becomes trapped in the filter. But, as soon as all that's done, it'll be all pristine again.

03 November, 2017

Fixing the Pool Roof

I hadn't been up on the roof for a while. It wasn't until I went up to begin rehabbing the weather station when I noticed the shade cloth tearing at virtually every anchor point around the perimeter of the roof.

Tearing Easily Evident
Not a good sign and it caused me to begin worrying that if we had a major storm or hurricane, that the fabric likely wouldn't hold up.

What was really worrying, was that tearing was so extensive around the perimeter. I was sure it wouldn't hold up under a major blow at all.

I really didn't want to be chasing bits of shade cloth all over the area.
Shortly After Original Installation

But what to do, that could be done economically and relatively fast and easily?

Salvation came unexpectedly when I drove by Doug and Twyla's house a few weeks ago.

Corozal Glass Truck
I saw the Corozal Glass truck, the same one that's now parked in our driveway, up at Doug and Twyla's. My first thought was that they were probably swapping out some louvers for glass windows or something similar.

The next time I drove by their place, I saw the Corozal Glass guys installing large screens across the arches of Doug and Twyla's veranda.

Oh, ho! so they're screening in their veranda. But wait. Was the screen fabric dark? I wondered if they were using shade cloth. And, they appeared to be using metal framing for the screens.

Extruded Aluminum Channel
The last time I had checked at Corozal Glass was a few years ago when I was first thinking of ways to put an awning up over the pool. They told me then that there wasn't anything available here that would work for shade cloth since it's much more substantial than regular screen fabric.

Even when we started re-screening the porches for the Mennonite house, and our pool house, I assumed that was still the situation. I should have checked again (make note to self - do that more often). As a result, for the roof, a simple arrangement of screws and washers was the solution at the time. Not the best solution, but there you are. For the walls of the pool enclosure and the veranda, we used a frame of treated pine 2x4s and the shade cloth stapled to them.

Setting Up Shop
 Things change in a couple of years. Now they have an extruded aluminum channel that works for shade cloth folded over a rubber spline, giving it a great deal of strength and holding power.

So, we advance to yesterday. I had stopped in at Corozal Glass and asked if they could come give me an estimate. Things worked out and after a couple days, we had our estimate and a work date scheduled.

Beginning the Work

Work on re-attaching the existing shade cloth with the aluminum channel went smoothly and quite fast. It only took the better part of one day for the whole project.

Chuck Working Spline Into Place

The slow part of the job for John and Chuck was, as you might figure, was getting the fabric and the spine in the groove of the channel.

John's Also Working the Spline

In fact, several areas of the project turned out to be easier to wrap the fabric and spline around the channel and screw it down that way. The rubber of the spline keeps the fabric from slipping as well.

Easy to Tell New Edge vs. Old

It's easy to see the difference with the new edge vs. the old. Much less stress on the fabric, which should improve its storm resistance.

Much Cleaner and Even Tension

A nice clean installation.

Roof Edge Covered With Flashing

Along the building edge, we have flashing installed. Not for anything structural with the fabric, but to prevent leaves from the nearby Gumbo Limbo trees from infiltrating down beside the beam right next to the building onto the pool deck. There were a lot of leaves coming down that way. The flashing turned out to be a quick and easy fix

Nearing the End
The day started off with an 80% chance of rain, and it quickly became gloriously sunshiny. Right before luch, it clouded over and we had a light drizzle - not enough to even register on the weather station.

After lunch, it cleared up for most of the afternoon and they were able to finish in good fashion.

All that remains now, is for me to get up on the roof today and carefully sweep and vacuum up all the little metal bits from the project. I need to do this to protect the heater tubes, which are soft plastic from getting needlessly punctured and we'll be good to go.