23 June, 2013

Currying Favor With the Powers That Be

Just a little service for our masters. May it please them immensely.

Ever since Nelson has grown into a teenager, he's felt  a growing sense of independence. This includes coming and going at all hours of the night - in fact, several times each night. Besides meowing and yowling with increasing volume to announce his intentions, he has decided that it is a good move to come into the bedroom and, leaping on the bed, to then walk up and down on each of us, until we wake up enough to realize what it is that he wants. That is, for us to get up and open the door for him. The same tactic also applies for those times when he's hungry. Nothing like a good walk on the back at 1:30 in the morning.

Eventually, we came to the realization that getting a good night's sleep was going to require some ingenuity on our part. Since most of the time, Nelson had us at a disadvantage, that is, us being asleep, when he would mount his offensive to cause the door to be opened. We usually wake up just enough to stagger out of bed, find the door and get it opened enough for this pale ghost to glide through.

So, what were we going to do? The only thing we could think of was to put in a kitty door. It's not like we haven't had experience with these things before. This would be number eight or nine of a long line of kitty doors and two doggie doors.

Anyway, we ordered one from Home Depot in Florida and had it shipped down here. That was one of the things I picked up from the Belize Port Authority on our last venture to the big city.

It simply wouldn't do to sit simply admiring the package. One is expected to take rather prompt action in such circumstances. Since I had gotten back from Belize City on Thursday evening, construction could begin promptly on Friday morning.

First, of course, we had to seek approval for the plan of attack. Below, you can see Nelson going over the plans for the project. He has a fine whisker for detail and gave me a couple of good suggestions that were duly incorporated into the process.
Nelson Reviewing the Plans
Once we had his Lordship's approval, I got my trusty keyhole saw and began carefully opening up the drywall in our office. This after reviewing photos early-on of our house. Naturally I couldn't tell directly where the wiring went under the large window, but I could infer some - there is an outside outlet on the left-side of the window and an inside outlet just to the right of the window. So, my inference was that the wire went horizontally between the two. Pretty good, eh?
Before the Drywall Went Up
But not good enough really. Once I got it opened up I could see no less than six wires hiding in there. Lord only knows what each of them are for. Obviously, the wiring for that particular wall hadn't been done yet when that photo was taken.
Lots of Hidden Wires
After that, and with Dianna's assistance to keep me from getting electrocuted, opening up the wall was really easy. Here's the final hole. Of course this required frequent inspections from Nelson and April.
Open Doorway From Inside
Since it was Friday, that meant no work on the afternoon because of happy hour, I took a piece of rag, some duct tape, and fashioned a passable door for the opening. That would have to do until Saturday.
Towel Added as Temp Cover
It was interesting early on this morning. As I was working on the computer, a couple of times I heard Deeohgee jump and growl, sounding scared as they come. Obviously, one or the other of the kitties had gone through the makeshift kitty door and since it likely made no sound, scared the poor girl half to death each time. It's going to take some time for all concerned to become used to having a kitty door opening onto the porch.

After a brisk walk with Cindy and Secret this morning, Deeohgee was stay-home doggie in their rotation, and a quick trip for some things in town, I got to work on finishing the kitty door.

Before I forget, I was originally going to ask David (of David and Elizabeth, friends of ours in Ranchito) to cut and cobble together the wood necessary to box the hole in the wall. Since they were going to be tied up Friday with another trip to Belmopan for their Residency interview, I thought it a bit unfair to saddle David with that. Turns out, I was able to do a passable job myself.

Friday morning I had to make a grocery run into town (of course that entailed having all three dogs along for the ride), so I took advantage of that and on our way back home, headed up to the airport to Guillermo Magaña's cabinet shop to see if I could get a couple of pieces of wood about 4'x4"x1/2".

No problem, Guillermo said, and proceeded to wrestle with a plank about 3" thick and a good 9' long. First thing he did was put it on the table saw to cut it down to 4' lengths. This promptly bound up the saw and warped the blade. Not an auspicious start.

After about 10-minutes to replace the blade, things got serious. Guillermo and one of his helpers got the wood cut to length, then they started ripping it to size. That was interesting to watch. then a few bouts on the planer and shaper, and before I knew it, I had two pieces of wood custom cut to my specifications. Beautiful wood too. I don't know what king it was. Dianna thought maybe Ziricote? All for only $7.00 BZD. And then the girls, groceries, lumber, and I, all headed home so I could get back to work on the project.

This morning (Saturday), and a few deft cuts later, a little use of my air-powered nail-gun, and careful measuring and fitting, and here's the result. Of course, there's still some varnishing to be done in the morning, and the project will be completed.
Inside Assembly Completed
One late-breaking item of note. Dianna and I decided that, since I have to remove the door itself for the varnishing, it would be a good thing to mount the door on the outside instead of the inside. That would help protect the wood from the elements and make it less likely to have water pooling inside somewhere.
Outside Assembly Completed
Now it's Sunday morning. All that was left was to remove the door, varnish the wood, including the molding, Refasten the door and - it's done!

Here's a shot from inside the office showing the woodwork with two coats of BH Spar Varnish. You'll notice a couple small bits of wood on the far edge. I had to add those to give the screws fastening the door something to bite on. I don't know why I didn't need those when the door was on the inside. It was square, wasn't it?
Two Coats Varnish - From Inside
And showing from the inside with the door attached.
Door Attached - From the Inside
And after final cleanup and with all the tools put away. Of course, we're still waiting final approval from Nelson and April, but I think that will be forthcoming if this morning's activities before work recommenced is any indication - in and out, in and out, several times by both. I think it's a popular addition.
It's Finished
Yesterday, Dianna and I were joking that all it would need now is a nice little throw rug in front of it in the office, maybe some damask curtains and maybe a nice pot beside the door with some catnip growing in it. We were joking, weren't we? Don't tell the kitties.


Unknown said...

Hello Dave,
My wife and I are looking at Belize real serious for retirement. You do shoot straight from the hip and I so appreciate that. I have went back to the very start of your blog and I am reading forward trying to write down and note all of the valuable information you are so kind to share. I did get to spend a few years in Italy while in the service back in the early 80's. I remember very well how the little bits of information can be so helpful to a foreigner, and totally change the experience. I have studied Belize now for many months and have to say finding your blog is a real gem for me. Do you ever communicate Dave via email? I have not noticed an email address on the blog. I was just wondering if I may ask you questions from time to time via email or Skype? We are looking at Corozal to visit and hopefully buy or build a home within the next year.
I so appreciate your blog and humor Dave. You make it so fun and interesting to follow.
Thanks Dave,
Keith K.
Kokomo, IN

Dave Rider said...

Hi Keith,
I do communicate by email. I don't put my address up on the blog for obvious reasons, but if you send me a private message through the Belize Forums (, which you should be subscribed to anway, if you're thinking about Belize, then, through the PM, we can share emails. I look forward to hearing from you.

Unknown said...

I may be doing something wrong Dave but for some reason I can not get registered with the belize forum. There may be a glitch or something. If you don't mind just shoot me an email using the email address I gave you in my first comment above.
thank you so much Dave
have a gr8 day

Dave Rider said...

Hi Keith,

You're probably doing everything right, it's hard to beat a system that breaks now and then.
As luck would have it, Google just added a new 'contact' widget for Blogger blogs, which 'Winjama' is one and i've added it to the right-hand column. Speaking of systems being broken... This widget would work better if it worked at all, but sometimes you can't expect too much. You might give it a try and see if they have fixed it.
In the meantime, you can use contactatwinjamadotnet to reach me. It shouldn't be too hard to figure out the correct format for it. I created it to use with the non-functioning 'contact' widget.