Well, life has calmed down a bit. Of course what counts as ‘calm’ in our house is maybe still hectic to some. Pat went home on Monday, sigh. Having her here with us was so much fun. It really helped to have her here right as we were settling into this new space. She’s so good at organizing and I don’t think anyone takes over a laundry room with quite the efficiency as my mother in law! This week, our first week in our house alone, without Pat, I’ve had to break down and enter her laundry room to reluctantly clean some clothes! Darn it! I’m happy to report working those cleaning machines is not unlike riding a bike, it all came back to me! hahaha! As I mourn my return to being responsible for laundry the dog is mourning that nice lady who spoiled her rotten! She seems sad that Pat isnt here, especially during mealtimes….small treats were consistently and lovingly shared and now she’s sadly disappointed. Pat would make sure to have a special slice of cheese just for Scruffy and would bit by bit dole it out while she ate her food. I have found the dog fast asleep on the floor in the guest room a few times, I think she is hoping when she wakes up that nice lady will be back! Hah!
There’s never a dull moment at Casa Carter…. We always have a ton of projects going on at one time. This week Javier and Gonzalo have been working on pouring the cement for our upper driveway and walkways around the front of the house and the workshop. It will be nice to get this done so that we won’t be trudging through mud puddles during this rainy season. Also, all our friends will appreciate being able to drive up to our house and park and even be able to turn around without the danger of popping a tire on a piece of rebar or backing into a stack of cinder blocks! hah! Not that anyone has done any of that…. aside from ME of course! As we are planning for our upper parking area we have tried not to just randomly pour concrete everywhere, Pfffft! That would be ugly and dumb! hah! We really don’t want to end up just having a huge hunk of cement up here. We’ve planned to have as much dirt areas for planting as we possibly can. Scott and I have walked around and taken measurements and drawn out a plan for what we think will make this area as car friendly as possible without looking like a big ugly parking lot. So, little by little this is coming to fruition and I’ll be so happy when we aren’t tracking tons of dirt and mud into the house!
The other project going on is the fireplace on the terrace. Richard and Orlando and Daniel are working on this project. Orlando and Daniel are doing all the stone work on it while Richard is actually doing the building. They are nearly done with this and its looking really nice. I want the front opening to the firebox to have an arch which is Javier’s specialty. When Richard has finished the building part then Javier will do the finish front and Orlando and Daniel will finish off the stone. The work on the terrace is kind of a bummer because Its really messy and loud so I’m stuck in the house all day when the guys are working. We have the terrace to ourselves for breakfast and then for 30 minutes at lunchtime, thats about it! Luckily we’ve had a few projects we’ve been trying to accomplish inside this week.
The last big push to finish the inside of the living room and rec room are about to begin next week. Before Pat came we were just trying to make this house livable and had not quite had enough time to finish those two rooms as they weren’t crucial. The ceilings in these two rooms are still just the metal framework, drywall needs to be installed. The tile floor in those two rooms also needs to be installed and then texture on the walls and painting. So, what this meant is that we had to move all our furniture out of those two areas and stuff it all into our master bedroom and the guest room. We did all that yesterday and today. All the stereo and TV equipment has been moved and we have it all set up in the bedroom. We have the couch an Scotts recliner in the bedroom as well and now its like a little studio apartment . For the next month or two this is our home.
As though that were not enough projects theres more! Ricardo is working on installing the tile roof on the workshop and welding up the doors to our bodega. The tile roof is very nearly completed and he will begin the tile roof on the main house when he’s done. I tell ya, without the drywall on the ceiling in those two rooms and no tile on the tin roof its incredible how hot it is inside during the day. And, have you ever been in a house with a tin roof when it rains??? Well, let me tell you, its LOUD! hah! There are times when we have to just turn the TV off because there’s just not enough volume to make it audible. Panama rains are like nothing I’ve ever experienced living in California! I just love it! As a matter of fact, I think I’d say that this time of year, the rainy season, is my favorite time of the year! I love the thunder, the lightening, and the incredible rain! And, the most wonderful part of this time of year is that even though we get a downpour almost daily, its never really cold. The mornings are almost always sunny and gorgeous. There is no wind, its fresh and green and lush and plenty of time in the early part of the day to do a little gardening or run errands before the deluge! It’s just about 2:00 as I’m typing this and its just starting to storm. Scruffy is lounging on her cozy bed, Copper is snoozing in his cat tree and I’m blissfully typing away on my couch in the bedroom. Even though its pouring outside I can still hear plenty of work going on, no shortage of noise thats for sure!
Another exciting project under way up here is our garden. We have a plan to attack small areas of our hillside near the house each year. We have nearly 3 acres of land and we have been inspired by a woman who has the most incredible garden , Carla Black. She has lived in Panama for 20 years and when she bough her property it was cow pasture. Void of anything but fields for cows to graze. Now its just one of the most impressive gardens I’ve ever seen. I wanna be just like Carla! She opens her Heliconia farm up to the public once a year and sells her amazing heliconias. Last year we worked on our shady area and we bought nearly 30 or so plants from her sale. This year we are working on a full sun area and we already picked out a bunch more plants that we hope to get in the ground during this rainy season so they can get established by the next dry season. Our gardener Leo has been working away at making pathways and we’re really beginning to see the shape of this new area. I’m very close to being ready to start putting trees and plants in the ground. Of course right away we’re already planting ground cover to prevent erosion . It’s a hillside and without any roots to hold all the dirt in it has a tendency to want to wash away! Yikes! I’m excited to watch this area come alive! Plants grow really fast here and we’ll have the beginning of a heavenly garden before we know it!
As if this weren’t enough to keep me busy I’m trying to get my head back into my Spanish study. I’ve really slacked off this last month or so, (for obvious reasons !) and I’m feeling terrible about it. Of course I began to whine about it to Scott and he decided he would tutor me. He has me going through flash cards on his tablet three times a day for 45 minutes! Yikes! But, its really helping me a ton. Luana has begun to teach us two new conjugations in the past tense. So, we have twenty or so verbs we are working on learning in the preterite and imperfect past tense. Ugh! We have a test next Friday and I really want to feel good about my progress. Its amazing how quickly you can fall behind when you don’t study a little bit every single day. Its only been two days and I’m already feeling much better. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m not getting discouraged. Luana is the best teacher I’ve ever had and I feel so blessed to have her in my life…..sigh….don’t get me started on that! I could go on and on about my friends here, and how full my life is with them in it!
One last little project that’s going on today at our crazy home is the cutting of the plywood for the parts of the upper kitchen cabinets and the island. Scott worked on his computer all morning doing what he calls his ‘cut list’. He’s out in his workshop right now with a couple of guys working on cutting the plywood for this. It will be lovely to have more places to put things. And he’s going to work on the upper cabinets for the casita as well. I’m sure our tenants who are living in the casita will be really glad to have more space in their kitchen as well. I’m hoping he will also make a few shelves! Wouldn’t that be great! To have Shelves! Gasp! What will I do with all that space!!! Well….fill it up, of course! hah! Don’t be silly, I’ll have no problem figuring out how to fill up cabinets! (Nikkie, are you with me? ) (thats our tenant in the casita!). Little by little we’re getting nearer to the end of our project but I’m not really sure if we’ll really ever be done….Scott seems to have a lifetime worth of projects. I think he’s in heaven right now. And, me? Well, I’m super excited to be in our new house and I am loving the decadence that is not having to go to work everyday. I think for me, I have yet to have defined what my passion will be in this new chapter in my retired life. Or, if I even really need to have a ‘passion’! Hah! This is a subject for another time, but suffice it to say, Life is indeed GOOD! And, our Adventure continues….