An early Christmas present

Years ago, a fellow expat told me about a long clamp he bought at Tienda Inglesa, very handy for making clean plywood cuts with a circular saw. I went to Tienda Inglesa, and — reminiscent of trying to find a ”special” item that you didn’t buy the first time you saw it at Costco — there were none. And there have been none. Until yesterday!

120 cm clamp
The clamp on top of one of my first attempts at cabinetry, including very disappointing not-straight cuts.

So it’s an early Christmas present. Time to try again to make a cabinet!

In other news, a bloom:

succulent blooming

I think we’ve had these plants at least three years. This is a first.

A busy 24 hours

Yesterday evening, a Namibian farmer of German descent who relocated here showed me how the thorny branches of the two orange trees salvaged from my failed country growing attempt were in fact suckers, growing from the root stock, and would never contribute anything. I had no idea that orange trees were grafted! So those bits went away first thing this morning.

Then to start the rounds: butcher, vegetable stand, plant some squash plants in the campo, report to the glass people that the window they just installed leaks like a ________, take back to Tienda Inglesa a USD 8 LED light bulb that failed in less than a month, and then to the hardware store.

paint swatch and light bulb
When I buy these “good for 20 years“ bulbs now, I label them with the source and date purchased. 20 years=<1 month? Unh hunh.

On the left, a swatch I made from the lovely color we painted the inside of the casita (little house) so I could consider it for the house in the country. The hardware store (ferretería) people were very helpful in instructing me how to mix one liter of brown paint into 18 of white, and so when the casita nearly exhausted our first batch, I prepared a second. Yes, what you see below on that swatch. Completely different color.

I took photos of the successful paint job in the casita, the mess in wife’s office, and the radical difference in color and coverage. I took a picture of a swatch of the second batch painted over the first.

Quality control, paint, Uruguay: the two results from mixing identical ingredients
Sorry, but they are identical. Honest.

And the paint containers.

paint containers

The reaction of Ferretería Villa de Sol? Never mind different colored labels, never mind different numbers written on top, never mind the radically different results, these are exactly the same product. We don’t know what happened, and we’re really really sorry. Can we offer to help you find a solution? No. Can we contact the distributor or manufacturer? No (are you mad?).

Unfortunately in Uruguay, es loy que hay (it’s what it is). Accept mediocrity, because.

Speaking of which, recall my amusement at the cluelessness of people who obviously (great location!) had firewood, but offered no way to get it. A few years on, apparently a light bulb has illuminated:

firewood
Basic marketing. What an amazing concept.

I will add that perhaps before they did wholesale, but: the retail potential of their location should have been obvious long, long ago.

So, what else?

pear tree

Wife pointed out that the fence we installed for dogs in the front yard was based on presence of bushes, not property line. Pear tree we planted is looking bounteous (bleh, crap photo), but it’s as though it’s chemically repelled by those bushes — notice how branches starting to the right reverse direction and grow to the left. With the revelation (what’s this about delayed light bulbs?) that I had an extra half meter to work with, I tore into the bushes. And will do more.

Go, pear tree. go!

Meanwhile, backyard, the butchered hibiscus offers today a couple flowers, for the first time.

Hibiscus blooming

Ready for a glass of wine, dinner, and read a book. My day in Uruguay.

 

Lumberyard inspiration

I can vividly recall, back when we lived in the USA, sorting and sighting (for straightness) dozens and dozens of the cheapest 2x4s at Lowe’s or Home Depot for various projects. Whatever words I might attach to that experience, “inspiring” would probably not be one of them.1

Going to the local lumberyard here is entirely different.

Whole cut logs at lumber yard, Uruguay

How can you look at entire logs sliced raw into thick slabs without starting to imagine things to make out of them?

Boards "au naturel" at our local aserradero, Uruguay

Inside, you can wander around among the various wood products, including dimensional lumber, either comun (I think they use that term) or cepillado, planed. But then these gems of individuality.

cheao interior door, Uruguay

But I wasn’t there for inspiration, but rather 3mm plywood veneer to re-face an abused and incredibly cheap bathroom door, since we have friends arriving in a week who will stay in the casita. It’s not a standard size, so I couldn’t simply buy a new one. Note that it doesn’t have a frame — just little pieces of wood glued to the veneer. I think they’re a little more solid up north.

trying to re-face interior door
So, glued, clamped, and ya veremos (we’ll see)!


1 However, being in North America, at least I didn’t have to double-check them for accurate dimensions and right angles

Aguas Dulces after the storm

We had quite a storm here at the end of last month.

We returned today from Aguas Dulces. I normally don’t like to post lots of photos, but I think in this case they will help you appreciate its aftermath.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
From our friends’ deck. The lower right was their front yard.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Neighbor on the left: front third of house gone.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Neighbor on the right: no house anymore.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Gone.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Gone.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Gone.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Gone.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Gone.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Meet your new front yard.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
People scurrying in and out — salvaging furniture?

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Meet your new front yard.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Meet your new front yard.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Gone.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Meet your new front yard.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
Meet your new front yard. Feel lucky.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016

No doubt a lot of people feeling this way. But dunes are built by wind and waves, moved and removed by winds and waves, and wind and waves have little regard for your desire to live with a view of wind and waves.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016

Meanwhile, the local “council” has suspended rubble cleanup after a court order. Seems they felt they could take into their own hands the destruction and removal of private buildings (on public land — ah, complicated).

The last big storm was 31 December, 1988. Expected storm surge is up to three meters. In this storm it was five meters above normal sea level.


Design Notebook

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016


On a lighter note, some imaginative decorations of other buildings in Aquas Dulces.

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016

Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, November 2016
The door on the right says NO ESTACIONAR — NO PARKING 😉

 

2016-11-19

1119-01
A horse skull in the “woods”
1119-02
Dogs at peace, for now
1119-03
Dove, tree
1119-04
Aloe vera, morning glory
1119-05
The Bandido
1119-06
Lots of sand between the toes after wandering with Ralf and dogs
1119-07
What next to expect?
1119-08
Our backyard pine, looking kind of old-south USA
1119-09
and the freaky sky.

The lizard, bees

Here’s Ralf’s photo of the “dinosaur” Benji found the other day.

Monitor (?) lizard, Uruguay

While Syd knows the entire area like the back of his hand, and has a pretty set route, Ralf likes to wander and explore. The other day we ran across beehives, which I’ve seen before, but wouldn’t be able to find on a map.

Happy honey bees in Uruguay, 2016

How nice to know that honey bees are happy and thriving in Uruguay!

 

The usual garden story

A few days ago, I transplanted three squash seedlings. They’re doing fine, but …

Volunteer squash

… I now see six. Hmmm. And when I check on the first of the tomatoes I transplanted,

Volunteer squash

I see six more. On the second transplanted tomato,

Volunteer squash

SEVEN squash plants! I had given each transplant a healthy amount of the compost I had taken out of our bin just prior, which a few days later

Volunteer squash

looks like this. Maybe I can get some of these starts to grow at our chacra, where we have plenty of room for sprawling squash vines.

So this is how my garden grows!

Volunteer cilantro

The tomato seedlings are in a bed with a fair amount of cilantro, which I also didn’t plant this year.

And yes, I do need to do some weeding.