I am beginning to think I have been taken for a ride, and Marcela is not letting me forget that it was my decision.
We still haven’t sorted out the problem with the solar system, the bills from the Energy Supplier keep coming, and rising each time. We are still waiting to hear from them, regarding our request for a change of meter, we also asked Natam Energi SAS, the installer, and they want $2.500.000 COP to install a meter, do you ever get the feeling you are being ripped off?
Marcela sent the ‘Engineer’ Sebastian a message asking for contact details for his Boss, it then went very quiet, so I started doing some digging myself.
You read this, and you think it is a big Company 350 Employees, must be good, then you see that the Head Honcho is one Yamid Hernandez Timote
Do a bit more digging and I come up with the above account, wow! that must be Sebastian’s double, funny how the Company Boss and one of the Installers look like twins, and yet have entirely different names! I have downloaded a load of his entries, (a few where he is flashing a load of cash about, and bragging about the money and wealth) because I may need evidence of this if I have to take the legal route.
Sebastian also had an account stating he is an Abogado/Lawyer and was giving free opinions, but that has been taken down. However he still has his account with his surname spelled with a z not an s, where he thinks he is a Singer.
I’ve listened to a couple, I don’t think I will bother again!
It was strange, because a couple of days after doing this, Marcela received a message from ‘Sebastian’, where he admitted being the Boss of the Company, which from the message has a grand total of TWO employees including himself. He also stated that contrary to his previous communication, he will replace the damaged solar panel, but it will have to wait until he has another person available to come with him, or two people who can do the work for him. However he still states that the problem with the system is the fault of EPM, and until the meter is changed it will continue, I still have to work out how that is the case.
I am considering getting another Solar Company to come and check the system over and give us a written report, and depending on what they find, biting the bullet, asking them to get the system working as it should, we seem to be banging our heads against a brick wall with Natam Energi SAS.
I think thaqt brings me up to date on the Solar saga, so I will end here, and then move on with a new post.
A week ago yesterday, I had to go back to the Dentist for a clean, and had managed to get Marcela her first appointment since the start of the Pandemic, I got away with a light scrub, Marcela wasn’t so lucky, she told the Dentist that she had had an accident a few months ago, and knocked a tooth against the glass jug of the Blender, and occasionally it caused her problems, she was sent for an X-ray, as a result, she has damaged the nerve inside the tooth, as a result she has to return to have the nerve removed, and the space filled.
Marcela’s teeth are her pride and joy, she is heartbroken, and worried she will end up losing the tooth. She was given an appoinment for last Thursday, so back we went, and as she was being prepped for the procedure, Marcela made a comment, at which the Dentist, said that she was only removing the nerve, and cleaning the inside, the rest of the procedure would be next month!!
At this, Marcela jumped off the bed, and said ‘No, she has a gum shield in at night, because she grinds her teeth, and asked if the tooth was likely to break, and was told that it most likely would. As a result, the appointment was cancelled, and she will have to get another next month, when the procedure will be done in the day.
Marcela also had a couple of other medical appointments, which have kept us on the move, and I had a test with an Ophthalmologist (for my eyes), due to my blood pressure, surprisingly, I passed with flying colours, she just recommended that due to my age, I start putting drops in daily, to keep them lubricated. At least there is one part of me, not falling to bits!.
Back home, I have been pottering in the garden and orchard, our only visitor seems to have been the possum family, I have taken the camera back down, but I will probably not bother again, until our fruit is ready for picking, and visitors are likely to return!
The weather has been up and down, during the day, we are getting three or four hours of scorching sun, late morning to mid afternoon, then the clouds roll in again and it is tropical storms all night, which would be no problem, except that results in Tito keeping us awake most of the night, as he is scared stiff. I have started putting on soothing music on a speaker alongside his bed, it has helped, but doesn’t relax him totally… roll on summer.
Marcela has gone over to visit the family until tomorrow, so we are having another Boys only time! I should look forward to it, but in reality, I rather Marcela were here. At least it gives her a breeak.
Now I am going to put my feet up in one of our new Hammock Chairs
Firstly, I finished revamping the coffee table in record time, having changed the edge of the table from a roundover to a chamfer, has made it look quite modern, surprising how little things can make such a difference, and the darker Oak colour is an improvement as well.
That done it was time to get the Dog crate finished, fortunately the weather has picked up, and stain and varnish drying time was a lot faster. As a result, yesterday I started the assembly
I finished that last night, and with Marcela’s help moved it into the house.
This morning I attached the table top, and the crate was finished
Our concern, was that we wanted this to be Pepe’s personal space, and of the two dogs you would think he was the Boss, but unfortunately what Tito wants, Tito gets, as far as they go, Pepe is a total wuss! I think it’s because he has always known that Tito suffers from ill-treatment in his former life, and gives in on everything, including his beds… not this time, we will ensure that.
There again, I built Pepe a brick kennel at our last house, and he point blank refuses to have anything to do with it, so that could have been the case here.
As it turned out, we needn’t have worried, I put one of Pepe’s beds inside, and he knew it was for him, and he has made himself at home, now we just have to watch that Tito doesn’t try to sneak in. We are considering removing the door, it is not our intention to shut Pepe in, so I might just take it off, and keep it handy, in case it is ever needed.
Having finished my current woodwork projects, it’s time to turn my attention to the outside again, as much as I love woodwork, neglecting everything else, would turn out to be a costly exercise.
I started by spraying all the weeds with weedkiller, my small sprayer is getting a bit long in the tooth, and keeping clogging, so I stripped it down, cleaned it, but when it came to re assembling it, a vital collar holding the spray nozzle in place, has disappeared, I searched everywhere for it, even asking Marcela to come for a look, as usually a second pair of eyes is all it takes, but not on this occasion. Fortunately I had finished spraying, but if it doesn’t turn up, I will have to buy a replacement, and use bits off the old one for spares.
I have always had a bad memory, but lately I have found myeself forgetting the most basic of things, I hope that this isn’t a sign of things to come!
I then decided, that it was time to visit the far extremities of our land, just to see how things are looking, and to re-install the wildlife camera, before uninvited guests start helping themselves again.
There is one lone tree at the bottom of the garden before falling in the stream, it’s in the middle of the land I cleared during the pandemic, and in many cases, in plain sight, is the same as invisible, so the camera is strapped on to it, I’ll give it three or four days before retrieving it again.
Most of our Avocados are Hass, which are the most sought after, and productive, but we have a couple of trees with different varieties, one grows huge avocados, which I dont like, the other two, grow another variety, which no one here seems to be able to identify. They are laden with fruit, but not quite ready yet.
The Hass are also laden, but they wont be ready for another couple of months, and since they bring in the cash, with the exception of a couple we have growing up near the house, we try not to help ourselves, to those.
Platano are growing, but they still have some way to go, unfortunately there are a number of plants that are not looking too healthy, I will monitor them, and if there is no improvement, they will be chopped down, and allowed to regrow from the ground up.
Now I need to decide what outside jobs need doing, and get stuck in, for two reasons, firstly because they have to be done by someone, and whilst I can still do them, I will do.
Secondly, I can now hear the bones in my knees rubbing, bone on bone, Marcela says it makes her feel sick, so I guess, I will be limited in what I can accomplish before too long, I already have to use a stick to get up and down the garden and orchard, due to my hip. I just thank my lucky stars that I am still better off than many. On that note I will sign off.
The first order of the day is to apologise, for the standard of my Posts, I have just been reading back, to see where I am up to, and saw a number of errors, due to big fingers, which I have now corrected.
I do read through my Posts, before publishing them, but obviously not well enough, I must do better!
Now to update on the past few days, albeit it feels like months.
I had some good news for a change, because I suffer with high blood pressure, I have to go for an annual eye check up with an Ophtalmologist, that has been delayed due to Covid, but last week, I finally had the test, and past with flying colours, she recommended that because of my age, and consequently thinning skin, which will effect my eyelids, that I start using eye drops on a daily basis to keep them moist, but otherwise, I am good to go, thank god at least one part of me is still in working order.
We had a knock on the main gate last week, and it was EPM, the electricity provider for this area, the man had come to do a Meter check, he immediately caused panic, because he said we had the wrong meter for a Solar system, and he would have to disconnect us from the Grid, fortunately, although Marcela was out, my friend Jaime had just been finishing off a job here, and stayed throughout to help me out.
I explained that the Solar Engineer said, he had had a long meeting at the EPM Office in Medellin, and complied with their requirements, after consulting with his Boss, he thankfully agreed. The Engineer, then did a full wiring test, and stated that all our running needs appeared to be supplied by them… So where is our solar power going?
We have since had correspondence with our Solar Installation Company, Natam Energi SAS, and a copy of the letter they received from EPM, we have to pay to have a bi-directional meter installed, and until it is, EPM can’t state categorically where the problem is with our energy supply, Natam have also stated that as the ‘damaged’ solar panel is working, they will not replace it, albeit, if we want it replaced, we can pay for it to be removed, shipped to Bogota and re-installed, are we impressed?… I think not.
Marcela has spoken with the installation Engineer from Natam today, and apparently we have three options, 1. Buy the Meter and they will install it, do the legalisation process, and depending on the resulting report, re-imburse us for electric paid for from EPM from the date of installation.
2. Employ a third party to install a meter, but then depending on the installer, we might have to sort out the legalisation process with EPM ourselves.
3. Get a quote for EPM to install a meter, obviously then, legalisation is not an issue.
We have talked it over, Marcela contacted EPM, they do not install Meters, they just charge to legalise them, which sums them up nicely. She has spoken with our Electrician, who has never installed a Meter, he is fully licenced, and could do the job, so he is making some enquiries regarding the legalisation side of it before deciding.
It makes sense to use our Electrician, because if later there is a problem, we can call him, however if not we will go with Natam.
Woodwork has been slow to say the least, I have been having terrible trouble getting stain, and varnish to dry. This isn’t the best time of year, as we are in winter, although we get some hot sunshine most days, it is very humid, which is extending drying time.
It has taken nearly a week for the first coat of varnish on the dog crate top to dry, I gave it a light sanding, last night, and a second coat of varnish this morning, hopefully once dry, I can complete the assembly, and take it into the house.
Never one to sit and twiddle my fingers, I decided that I would strip down a coffee table, I made years ago, change the design, sand, stain and varnish that as well.
I wanted to cut off the rounded edge, so it had a chamfer like the dog crate, make it look a little more modern. I know the colours will never match, the dog crate top is made out of chanu, a light coloured wood, this table is made out of reclaimed abarco, I rescued from the garden at our last house, stripped and reused, it will be darker altogether.
The top was easy to remove, because it was attached with pockethole screws from underneath.
I sanded the whole table back to bare wood, I then decided that rather than use my Router, I would cut the chamfer with my table saw, that might not have been the best decision, it was relatively easy to set up the table saw, and I cut three sides without a problem, but on the fourth, as I was finishing the cut, due to the weight of the abarco, I dropped the table top on top of the blade, which was still spinning, and it cut into the top. Fortunately the table was sufficiently long, that I could cut the damaged area out, re-chamfer it, and it was still long enough to fit on the base.
I then stained it with the oak, before leaving it to dry. This morning I gave the whole table a coat of varnish, as in both projects, I am using a semi-gloss varnish. The legs and base will just have the one coat, the top, like the other, will receive a light sanding, then a second coat when dry.
With the oak stain, it certainly does look a lot darker, but more in keeping with the rest of our furniture.
I said I had been busy, and then realised that my last post was dragging on, so decided to make it two!
Last Saturday, whilst alone, I was in bed reading, when the volume of music from somewhere nearby went through the roof, so I decided to go out and have a look, to see where it was coming from.
I was treated to a light show, in the distance. I have always been fascinated by thunder and lightening storms, when I was on Police Patrol, I would park up on a highpoint, just sitting and watching the show. This was much the same, I just stood and watched for what seemed like ages.
I have invested in another wildlife camera, the other was/is fine, but it eats batteries, and with my current aqilments, I can’t get up and down the mountain like I used to, so this lasts a while longer.
I think we have someone coming into the orchard and helping themselves to Platano, and possibly avocados as well, but I wont say anything, until I have the evidence. The benefit of this is that I also see our native wildlife in action.
Our neighbours rent the property, we dont get on, they made demands before the house they live in was even built, and have upset other neighbours, I suspect one or more of those sent to work for them, have been straying over the fence, and I intend to put a stop to it. I don’t want them to know we have cameras below, until I confront them, so we’ll wait and see, this incident, will just be added to the list.
That just about brings me up to date, it’s now time to take the Boys for a bath and haircut hopefully they’ll feel a bit fresher afterwards.
It’s been a busy few days, and not with woodwork! I had another appointment with the Orthopaedic Surgeon regarding my knees and hips, the knees he is happy to continue the existing treatment of nerve block injections, as and when needed, but he was concerned with the deterioration in my hips, which is speeding up. He is of the opinion that subject to the results of x-rays he has since sent me for, I will either have hip replacement, or they might try nerve block injections there as well.
Having read up on the hip replacement procedure, I didn’t realise how long I would be out of action, so I am hoping he may consider the nerve blocks, because they have certainly helped with my knees, albeit I can now hear bone on bone, when I put any weight on them. We will see, I will struggle on, as I say, there are plenty of people worse off than me!
Marcela, went to stay with the family last week-end, it had been her Mother’s birthday the previous week, and they went out for a meal, I was invited, but it would have ment leaving the dogs outside overnight, and since that has never been done, I wasn’t prepared to leave them, maybe I should have done.
On the Saturday, I cooked lunch, which went down a treat, and then had our usual pudding, which consists of one ‘Wakeup’, a chocolate of some type, we keep them in the freezer, and the first bite, I knew it… another tooth broken, sheared in half, exposing the nerve, albeit only hurt when I touched it with a finger, Marcela said she was coming home, I told her not to be silly as there was nothing that could be done until the Monday.
Tuesday morning emergency appointment at the Dentist and they applied a resin veneer, the front of the tooth had sheered off, how long it will last, is anyone’s guess, but at least for now, it works! There was one good thing to come out of it, I found that they have started the normal dental check-ups again, after 18 months closed down, so I have my first appointment tomorrow.
Back to my favourite topic, my pockethole screws arrived from the US, and I have been able to complete the top / table for the dog crate, once it was clamped, glued and screwed, I left it a day, then cut it to size, and instead of the boring round over edge, I put a chamfer on it with the router. Sanding took a while, I start with 80 grit, using machines, then worked up to 600 grit, the last couple by hand, but it was worth it, and this morning it had it’s first coat of stain, I used Oak (roble) it matches both our bed and the dining table and chairs, since that was done years ago, I was surprised the stain hadn’t dried up in the tin!
I will wait to see if Marcela wants it any darker, before applying a couple of coats of varnish.
The other work to be done, was by Jaime, I had nothing vto do with it, I wanted a roof to cover our quadrangle / patio so we could make use of it, when the sun is overhead, or it’s belting down with rain, due to the pandemic, and the price of metal, it had to wait, but it’s now done! Here are a few photos of the process.
I’m not sure what Health & Safety would have thought of some of the practises, but they all left unscathed!
I am chuffed to bits with the work, they had only been finished 30 seconds and the rain started, yet it does blow in on the floor, but you don’t get wet, so as it’s still warm enough to sit outside, we can make use of the space, and anyone staying in the Cabaña doesn’t need an umbrella to get to the house… Job done!
If the word ‘woodworking’, bores you to tears, I would move on, it is my passion, and I am happy to sit and talk about it all day.
I have been continuing work on the dog crate, with a few distractions, it appears that the finished crate will probably be donated to Pepe, sad as it is, we have heard not a word from Oreo’s Owner, she had our phone number, and knows where we live, so we can only think she has changed her mind.
The crate is to be a combination of dog house and household furniture, so we talked it over and decided to burn it, rather than stain, however Marcela wanted it a lighter colour than the bunkbed, so after a couple of samples, it turned out like this
Pepe seems to have already laid claim to it!
I then gave it a couple of coats of varnish
That’s the crate finished, and now for the top, which I want not only to be the roof of the crate, but a functioning table top.
later last week, we went to Rionegro, so decided to see if I could find a laminated wood ready made top, which I could trim to size, I found them alright, but the price was just stupid, so I decided to go through my wood pile, and find some hardwood, and make it from scratch.
Whilst in Rionegro, we went to a Sports shop that sells Traumatic weapons, firearms, but non lethal, I have a Pistol for home invasion, it fires rubber bullets, unfortunately the Government in their wisdom have changed the law from the end of this month, they will be classified as Firearms, and will need licensing, the same as any other firearm. The General Public are up in arms, and rightly so, the Police and Authorities do nothing to protect us, and then take away what little we can use. We went to the shop to try and find out more, but they have received no information, and state that until they do, they will continue to sell the weapons, and advise people to use them! Those already in possession of traumatic weapons have six months to get a permit, or surrender them, I will keep mine for the six months, and then take my grinder to it, unless I can get a permit.
It looks like I might have to look for some other form of weapon, maybe I should become like one of my Countrymen, and learn how to use a Bow and arrow or Crossbow, Robinhood had the right idea!
In between time, I had a Doctor’s appointment for my High Blood Pressure, I had lost another 4kg, and was pleased with that, but the Doc wasn’t he wants me to lose at least another 20kg, down to 80Kg that would have made my Mother proud, as I would probably weigh less than I did at birth, so I told him what he could do with that idea, but he still had to harp on about not overdoing it with Christmas food… Christmas, that’s still three months away!
Back to my Crate, I found some Chanu 2x4s in the wood pile, I think they were bought as beams for the workshop roof and never used, ideal.
Firstly I cut then into oversized lengths to make them easier to work with
Then I ran them through the planer
So now I had one side clean and flat, I needed the sides perfect as well, oh what I would have done for some of that machinery I left in Spain! However you make do with what you have got, and I have a table saw, so onto Youtube, and found exactly what I needed, and made myself a jig.
which allowed me to trim one side flat, and with that I could spin the wood round and cut the other… done.
I can’t do a lot more, because I need some special screws, I could use ordinary wood screws but it would be as strong, so I am waiting for them to arrive from the US.
This morning I decided to prepare for the screws, I am using the pocket hole method, but I need to take my own advice, I was always taught, that whatever you do, measure twice, cut once, and with woodwork, that applies to a lot of the processes, but I rushed, I don’t know why, and this was the result.
The first board, and I put the screwholes in the top, not underneath, so after a bit of cursing, I filled the two holes with pockethole plugs, and started again.
This time I got it right. By the time it is finished with glue and screws, it will be stronger than any bought board!
Mid morning we had a visit from Jaime, I want a quote to roof in our outside quadrangle, so we can make more use of it, both when it is hot, and when it is raining, that also allows anyone staying in the Cabaña to walk to the house without getting wet. He came, he measured, he went, and now we wait!
To pass time, I decided to make wooden chanu dowels from leftovers, I already had the jig, so the first order of work, was to cut up the scraps
Miracles do happen, I still have all my fingers!
I started by using my drill to spin the blanks through the jig, but then decided that using a hammer did a better job, if a bit slower.
Below are the cut blanks and above the finished dowels, not that straight, but they dont have to be, I can cut them to the length I want, and use them to join timber saving myself a fortune by not having to buy them.
That’s me finished for today, tomorrow more dowel making, and Thursday, its back to see the Orthopaedic Surgeon regarding my knees and hips, so we’ll see what he has to say.
We were both up early this morning, as the arrangement was that the owner of the dog Oreo, was leaving home at 7am to walk him to our house, and after a short introduction, she would leave him with us for the day.
I suspected there might be a delay, as it was pouring with rain, but shortly after 8am, the phone rang, and it was Oreo’s owner to say she was ill, and either had flu or covid, as she has only had one injection, so the meeting was cancelled, and we wait to hear from her, when she is better, or not, as the case may be. Sad, I have to say, I was looking forward to another family addition, but I guess it still might happen.
I decided that rather than mope about, considering we had done our Sunday chores yesterday, to keep the day clear, I would get started on the dog crate, even if there is no new addition, Pepe might like a place to retreat away from Tito, who can be annoying at times.
Yesterday, I finished my new outfeed rollers to sit on top of the saw horse, and support timber being cut on the table saw
the one on the right, was my old version, made when we were at Copacabana, and doesn’t fit well on my new saw horses, the one on the left, is just a block of wood, cut so it can be clamped to the saw horse, and has bearings instead of roller,s so will take wood from any direction.
Firstly I had to plane the timber down to size, which meant taking about 1/4″ off the thickness…yes, most of the time, I still use feet and inches! So out came my planer, and it was time to make shavings!
That done and cleaned up, it was time to cut all the pieces, just because it is quicker, I had found a plan with material and cutting list, which was a time saver.
Out came the table saw, it is far easier to clean up if I move the big tools outside
With all the pieces cut, I now have to pocket hole them, and that will take some time, but once done it should be a piece of cake to glue and screw the whole frame together, and then using some left over plywood from the staircase project, finish it off, before painting or staining it.
I think now I have hit lunchtime, so will see if Marcela fancies sitting and watching a film this afternoon!
I decided that it was time for some manual labour, and the first thing on the agenda, was to stop ending up on my backside so many times when negotiating the orchard. It depresses me to watch Marcela’s business Partner working the Avocados like he is a mountain goat, and yet I struggle to get up and down, or vice versa!
I still have a pile of old tyres, from when Jaime and his Crew retrieved them from underground when putting in the new parking area, so it was time to get working.
I have decided that rather than try to create steps from the top to bottom, it is better, and looks better, to put them in ‘short bursts’ on the steepest sections
There was a lot of digging and levelling, albeit it doesn’t look much, but I am still suffering with my hip and back, after the recent fall, so by the time it was finished, my body was aching all over. However if the new section blends in like the one below it, I shall be happy, it will take a few weeks for the grass and weeds to grow back, but it will get there.
Now for the next one….
Yesterday lunchtime, Marcela was browsing her cellphone, as is her want, and suddenly showed me a couple of photos.
It turns out that this is ‘Oreo’, apparently he is a year old, and looking to be rehomed, only living down the road from us.
We talked it over, and to my surprise, Marcela was very keen, I agreed, enthusiastically, on the condition, that the final decision was not ours, but that of Pepe and Tito, and Oreo of course!
So Marcela made contact with the Owner, who said she had had Oreo for eight months, and was going away for an undetermined length of time, so wanted to rehome him, he is fully vaccinated and castrated, ready to move.
We have arranged for a trial day, tomorrow! to see how he gets on with our two, my concern is Tito, he is so possessive and jealous, not very social with other dogs, having been rescued himself, he wants the attention. The Owner is bringing Oreo first thing in the morning, we will take them all on lead for a walk, and if all goes well, she will then leave him for the day, after which a decision will be made, by our four legged family members, so watch this space!
Monday, I started off by going down town, to buy more stain for the the bunkbed stairs, I realised the colour problem had been my fault, if I had bought what I wanted, I would have bought, Wengue, which is dark, how I mixed up Nogal, I have no idea. However this time I went to a Paint Specialist, and after reviewing the colour examples, decided that Teca (Teak) was the nearest colour match.
Yesterday morning, I painted over the parts I had coated in Nogal, and then painted the outside of the frame, the contrast looks quite good.
Whilst it was drying, I went down the orchard with my Father-in-law, and we trimmed off the dead fronds from the Platano (cooking bananas), we certainly have ample supply of wildlife!
The trunks of the platano and bananas are made up of fibrous tubes one inside the other, and this retains water to feed the plants, these worms love it!
Unfortunately as we were making our way down the slope, my feet went from under me, and I landed flat on my back, not only knocking the wind out of me, but doing something to both my spine and hip at the same time, fortunately Henry was there to help me back to the house.
A couple of painkillers later, and I was back out late afternoon, waxing the boards and frame I had stained.
This morning, it was time to put this project to bed, it has certainly dragged on long enough, thanks to medical appointments, family visits and other commitments, I enjoyed designing and building the beds, but the stairs have been a chore. This is certainly my last big project.
Now that the project is completed and people don’t have to play at being Tarzan and Jane to get to the top bunk, I will have to think what is going to happen next, but I am taking a bit of time away from serious projects, and going to work the land for a bit, weather allowing.