Is It Done Yet?
August 12th, 2008 by Mark & Lori
My house is being built!! I am mostly excited and only slightly apprehensive about this monumental project. Living on the sailboat is very comfortable but since Mark began construction, I have asked him almost every day, “Can I plug in my washing machine and dryer yet?” I am joking of course, but do look forward to that day very much. This is a house of our own design and it is thrilling to see it coming together. Instead of hiring a crew, Mark is basically doing it all with help from only a couple of guys (I will be put to work later when we get to finishing the interior). I climb the hill with camera in hand every other day or so and photograph the progress. Unfortunately, I cannot stand to stay for long as it terrifies me to see these guys walking out on such narrow beams so high in the air.
Watch Your Step!
One day recently, Mark told me that he and Jose were raising a column and Mark’s foot slipped and he came close to falling twenty feet off the house. I asked what Jose’s reaction was (he doesn’t speak English) and Mark said his eyes popped out and he spoke rapidly in Spanish. Mark could only reply to what sounded like a reprimand, “Si, si!” The other prominent stress in this endeavor has to do with communication. I am not a carpenter and do not understand all the details of construction. I am beginning to learn some of the terminology such as joists, ribbons, top plates, etc….But, don’t even try to explain loading conditions to me. I know it has something to do with supporting the weight but why does it seem to interfere with my design? So, Mark visualizes one thing and I another. We have difficulty sharing these with each other and have long, stressful discussions. One day when I was completely exasperated, I told him by the time this house is built, there will be blood everywhere and one of us might be dead! But, even with the trials and tribulations, we are enjoying the process and thrilled to finally get construction going.
The past couple of weeks, while Mark was up the hill working (and hopefully not falling or hurting himself); I was down on the boat playing “superintendant” of the dock construction (like I know anything about building a dock!). We hired Darcy to extend our existing dock an additional thirty feet and he did nice work. Of course he had me constantly hovering over him like a mother hen, but I actually helped with a few issues that came up and now the extension is finished, sturdy, and level.
Mark is still shopping for 35’ pilings that we will drive in the water. We will have the power company install three meters and run wiring and outlets and our mini-marina will be ready to open for business. So, if you need a place to keep your boat, come on down!
Back in Chapter 7, I wrote about my grocery dilemma. Well, this is an ongoing issue. I will be traveling back to Florida next week for a visit and sorry family, but it is not you I am excited to see, it is the grocery store! Our latest challenge involves floor cleaner and I don’t mean finding some to purchase. The island has numerous small “tiendas” (stores) but the few larger grocery stores are all under single ownership. Mark and I have found that on several different occasions, we have tasted a strong flavor of floor cleaner in our bread and tortilla chips that were purchased at one of these particular stores. Mark went so far as to mention this to the owner and he said he is required to use this floor cleaner in his stores by regulation. I am amazed the chemicals don’t eat right through the linoleum, it is some powerful stuff! I figure it can’t be too healthy to eat food that is saturated with the floor cleaner flavor. So, the plan is to try and NOT buy anything in plastic wrap (bread, chips, cookies, etc...) in these stores. The strange quandaries are never ending in Bizarro world!
For those of you who have been reading our story, you probably have gathered by now that we have formed a little “gringo gang” here in Calabash Bight. This group consists of Mike and Gail, Alex and Kelly, and Mark and me. Coincidentally, all our birthdays fall within the same two months. This time around, we celebrated Gail’s birthday up at her house on July 16th and then on August 1st, we celebrated Alex’s and my birthday at Alex and Kelly’s place.
Party, party, party! We do have a good time and it is wonderful to have such great friends right here in our own little bight. We get together to snorkel, sail, and the latest thing, kayaking. Kelly and I decided we needed to get some exercise, so we paddle around Calabash with cold drinks, puffing away on cigarettes….What a work-out. The guys seem to enjoy it also but are much too serious about proper technique and really moving through the water. So, we let them go their own way while we paddle around in circles and have a fantastic time!
Living in a world where things constantly go wrong, I am utterly amazed when something goes right. The loss of Harley left a hole in our hearts and the empty cage in the corner of the porch was a sad reminder of her passing. Mark has always been a bird lover and soon after Harley left us, he began diligently searching for a new friend. He wasn’t having much luck here in Roatan and was talking with a breeder in Florida. If we had opted to go this route, it meant I would be bringing a bird on my flight back from the States. This was important to Mark, so I was willing to do it but not thrilled with the prospect or with the fact that this would cost us hundreds of dollars. Anyway, he was driving back from running errands one day and decided to stop in and visit a woman who has an aviary. People had told us about her place and he was curious. As it happened, she had a wonderful two year old Yellow Nape that she dearly loved but wasn’t able to spend enough time with. Mark made friends with him immediately and this wonderful woman, Joy, offered to give Mark this bird. His name is Doobie and he is incredible! He only has one bad habit that we probably won’t be able to break him of. His favorite things to say (LOUDLY) is “Bueno F*ck”. Joy says he learned this from another of her parrots and you just can’t help but laugh when he says it. I had the pleasure of meeting Joy just the other day. When I realized who she was and introduced myself, she gave me a big hug. And I gave her a big hug back. Her generous gift was just what we needed. I just love it when things go right!
Our other two family members, Maggie and Ziggy, are doing great. Maggie has a very somber temperament and takes her job of overseeing the construction of the house very seriously. At the other end of the spectrum, is Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky Ziggy. I recently found a tennis ball and he wants to play all day. He can actually jump three feet off the ground and catch the ball mid-air but I have yet to get a good picture of this.
As I mentioned earlier, I will be traveling to Florida in a few days. I hope to be present for the birth of my first granddaughter. I also look forward to visiting with many of you while I am there. And, family of mine, I was just kidding about the grocery store being more important than you. After that crack, I do still have a place to stay, don’t I?
Yippee! The rest of the lumber showed up on Thursday July 10th with Captain Evans at the helm of the Bambino again because the lobster season had been pushed back two weeks. I was glad he had enough time to see my lumber delivery completed. Thanks Captain Evans! Now, it is weather that concerns us as a tropical wave has built up and is looking very wet and another tropical wave is trying to become a tropical storm. Of course all of this is heading our way. Lori kept saying as soon as the lumber arrived so would the rain. A discrepancy with the owner of the Bambino over the cost of delivery delayed construction for another week. A mediation was held in the Governor of Roatan’s office and everyone was pleased with the outcome. So, on July 17th I placed the first piece of lumber and I will be a slave to this project until its completion.
It is 6:00 am on Monday July 21st, 2008. I have already been up for about two hours getting mentally prepared for the day of home construction. There are some changes to the original plans and I also have to address a few issues and keep everything straight in my head so there are few mistakes. It is so difficult to get materials here and so easy to make a mistake which could delay me quite a bit! Since Thursday of last week, with neighbor Mike and Jose’ helping, we managed to get the 2 x 12” x 16’ and 20’ treated plates bolted down and now it is joist time. More 2 x 12” x 16’ and 20’ lumber going up on top and nailed/bolted in place. For a guy that hasn’t done much lately this has been a re-awakening of muscles that haven’t been used/abused in this manner for some time! I am SORE! But at the same time I am getting psyched about doing the house and getting things rolling. I also have to co-ordinate the start of the dock extension and time the delivery of the wood posts that will be driven in with the barge/crane. Since this is the only barge that drives pilings that I know of, his schedule is important to me but with the crane breaking down and the repairs taking awhile, the initial one month delay has turned into two months. So, when he is ready to finally show up here to do the work, I imagine it will be on a moment’s notice (like usual).
Somewhere around July 12th, an Amazon Yellow Nape parrot came here to stay and be part of the family. Doobie has been doing all sorts of tricks, talking up a storm, and hanging upside down in his cage more often than he is upright. He is one active, playful clown. We give him the toilet paper core rolls (Lori calls these Dur da durs. You know the sound you make when you hold one to your mouth and go “dur da dur!”) and he goes nuts playing with these all day long and is very entertaining to watch. He isn’t quite as cuddly as Harley was (yet), but he sure is funny and doesn’t bite my fingers so we get along just fine. Doobie needed a new home and we needed him. I am so happy this worked out as it did.
By August 7th, I had finished one more of the three center columns for the house. These are the highest ones at 24’. I plan to finish the final one tomorrow and erect them Monday. I had assembled all of the perimeter columns and finished the floor joists during this time, again with Mike and Jose’s help. Mike, who lives at the top of a hill here in Calabash right next door to us, actually likes this kind of punishment. He comes down here, cuts and hammers away and says it is fun! He said since he bought his house finished, he missed out on the experience of building a home in a third world country, and now enjoys going through it with me. He is a nut!
With the center columns ready to go up, this puts us in a good position. The next step will be to run the top plates into the slots I made in the columns and bolt them through. Then, I will be able to climb all over the standing structure since it will be very stable. It also means that I can start the floor joists for the loft and observation deck. More importantly, I can get some flooring down on the main floor so I can walk like a normal person instead of stepping on every 24” beam while trying to keep my balance. The house was originally designed as post and beam construction. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered that most of the larger lumber we could get here was twisted and warped and much too difficult to work with. So instead, I built the columns out of regular 2x lumber screwed and bolted together (and even some of those have a slight twist to them!). The main problem is that they treat all the lumber here because of the termites (dry wood and subterranean). That, combined with the moist air, causes some of the lumber to twist and warp as it dries, no matter what you do. I am trying to get a roof on this before the end of September (dried in as they say).
Rainy season is just around the corner. As far as the construction goes, I have been lucky that the rain has been sparse. But it is also a bad thing when your water comes from a cistern and your plants are all looking very thirsty.
On August 9th, I got a dark thirty start on disassembling the solar panels. We have decided to move them because the suns path across the horizon at the summer solstice made the roof shadow the panels and we were not producing any power until 10:00 am. I did not know that the sun would travel almost a total of 30 degrees from where it rose in September/October to where it does in June/July. This is a drastic difference! Anyway, I was up on the extension ladder, just thinking about my next move when all of a sudden I was on this wild ladder ride, quickly heading 14’ down to the ground! The ladder’s feet slid somehow while I wasn’t moving and I bounced off of a branch of an Almond tree. The tree branch broke and I bounced down the trunk and landed on the steps of the porch. I was lucky the tree helped break my fall but I still laid in a daze on the ground for a minute. I moved slowly at first to make sure I didn’t break anything like my neck, arm, or leg but only felt the pain and throbbing of a few cuts and bruises. Man that was a ride I don’t want to go on again! I was banged up pretty good but just kept right on working and with Mike’s help, managed to move all ten of the panels to the roof top.
Later that afternoon when things cooled down a bit, I re-wired the system and tested it for operation. It works once again but boy am I gonna be sore tomorrow! Lori, do I see a back rub in my future? I didn’t think so. I think she is more concerned about the damage to her precious Almond tree….ha-ha
Jump to the top
- Chapter 1
Our Little Slice of Paradise Found
- Chapter 2
Offer Accepted & Reality Check Time
- Chapter 3
The Fun Begins
- Chapter 4
The "Guest House" Turtlegrass Pequeño
- Chapter 5
Our Sailing Adventures or "Aeolus Goes Home"
- Chapter 6
We Start Our Life In Roatan Together
- Chapter 7
Lori On The Social Scene & Mark's Ups and Downs
- Chapter 8
Beware The Dangers of Dingo's Drop
- Chapter 9
O.O.R. (Only On Roatan)
- Chapter 10
Trying To Reason With Hurricane Season
- Chapter 11
- Chapter 12
Is It Done Yet?
- Chapter 13
Enjoying The Process
- Chapter 14
Rain, Riots and Reproduction
- Chapter 15
The Daring Dangling Mark Show
- Chapter 16
- Chapter 17
Steps Forward on Shaky Ground
- Chapter 18
Drama, Duppies & Doggies
- Chapter 19
When the Bizarre Becomes the Norm
- Chapter 20
Just When We Thought We Were Done