HELP!

 Well, I have tried, as I said in  my last Post, Google are turning off \’Feedburner\’, for RSS and Post notifications, I have tried a number of alternatives, but despite having deleted my Feedburner link, Google keeps interrupting the installation of any other option.

If anyone has any knowledge of how to install a replacement for Feedburner, please contact my in the contact section alongside, with either a link or I will get back to you. If not, then I am afraid, I wont be able to replace what doesn\’t work. Many thanks.

Important Announcement

 I have just received an email from Google to inform me that \’Feedburner\’ is being closed,  this only effects people who have subscribed to my Blog, to be informed of new Posts by email, or for the more knowledgeable amongst us, the RSS feed.

I will therefore be changing to a new service next week, I won\’t change it immediately, to ensure Feedburner has notified any subscribed Followers.

I will notify you once it is done, at which stage, anyone already subscribed will need to do so again with the new software.

Many thanks to those of you who have stayed with me so far.

What a Month!

I finally finished burning all the timbers for the Bunkbeds, well, the first phase, once they are all cut to size, and holes drilled for the bolts, they will have to be burnt again on the parts cut, this I have already started, but again it will take time, much of which will be done during the construction. This is my pile of timber as it stands at the moment:

I decided that it was time to start making my beeswax polish, I had bought 4kg of solid beeswax and two litres of Mineral Oil, this in addition to a bit of both I still had from my days in Copacabana, I used up the old first. and started by grating and cutting it up with a chisel.

I then dug out our emergency cooker and started heating it up, two cups of wax to four cups of oil

I did it in the workshop rather than the Kitchen, in case there was a fire, heating up mineral oil is asking for trouble, but I decided to take a shortcut and put the lot on direct heat, I was stood over it the entire time, stirring it with a wooden spoon, and the fire extinguisher was nearby!

Then it was just left to cool down

I thought I had added more than enough mineral oil, but although this polish is ideal for normal use, it is too hard for my needs, because of the size of the project, I need it soft enough to apply with a brush, so in time this will be going back on the heat, and more oil added.

In the mean time, I used up my old polish and applied it to all the bed slats

which gives you an idea of the final colour for the bed, once applied, I polished them up, and they are in the house, out of my way.
I had a slight delay in my work, because Marcela, found a local Artist who was prepared to do portraits of my three dogs, yes three, Luis from Spain, and Pepe and Tito, I had been looking for years for an Artist good enough to match the Portraits I had of my first two dogs back in the UK, Pascha and Bracken (left)

Like in Spain they have spent all their time hanging in my Office, in Copacabana, and then here, it was time to elevate their status.

The Artist Diana (Luna del Gato), turns out to be a neighbour, who doesn\’t live more than 500m away, so after talking to her for a while we gave the go ahead, and she excelled herself.

but first, I had to make some more frames, to match those above.

If you\’re observant, you will have noticed the deliberate mistake…I only made two not three, duhhhh! So I had to set up my tools again and make a third, but in the end they were a good match.

Marcela made the decision that they would take pride of place on the lounge wall.

Other than working, my other preoccupation this month has been medical appointments, I had my second set of tests for Vertigo, and they were inconclusive, so my Doc is now sending me to another Specialist, who I see next month, I had hoped that the episode was a one off, but last week I suffered on and off for two days, so it is something I need to get to the bottom of.

With regard to my knees and hips, I saw the number one Specialist in this area, and subject to the results of an MRI scan ( which is on 29th May) he believes I need surgery on both knees, and a replacement hip, he gave me the choice of which to deal with first, and I have gone with the knees, because although when I have been sitting a long time, or in bed at night, my hip gives me a lot of pain, I am still getting four of five hours sleep, I would rather be able to get around, and for that I need my knees sorting. I go back to see him on July 1st, and even if he decides to operate, I will then have to wait until it can be done.

Hopefully I have a temporary solution, I saw a Doc yesterday, who is a pain Specialist, and she gave me three options, one, medication, two a nerve block injection in both knees, or three just wait until it is decided if I have surgery, because the latter could be months away, I have gone with the nerve block, and just hope it works.

As for Covid, numbers of positive cases here are going through the roof, we are in a partial lockdown again, the President wont go for the full lockdown, because Colombia can\’t afford it, unlike other Countries like the UK, there just isn\’t the money to dole out to people and Companies, the Politicians have seen to that, by filling their own pockets. I have heard no more about my appointment for the vaccine, it appears the program has all but come to a halt, because they can\’t get the vaccine, or afford to pay for it, one or the other. Yesterday, we heard that our Department has run out of Oxygen in the hospitals, so the death rate is climbing…it certainly doesn\’t sound good, that\’s for sure. We can only sit back and watch and wait.

Underway!

 Finally, I am able to get going on my project of the year, and that is the double bunkbeds, which should end up looking something like this:

The only difference being in is my intention to design and build a staircase, that sits alongside, and incorporates storage, also the storage shown under these beds, will be a platform with a single mattress, so at a push, we would be able to accommodate five.

The first job was to buy the timber

 This is just for the bed, the staircase will be another load.

I bought rough sawn timber, that is timber to size but not planed, it still has all the rough spots and saw blade marks. The idea behind this is that I am trying out something new, to me,  a Japanese process called Shou Sugi Ban, the art of wood burning. I have briefly touched on this before, when I experimented with the posts for my garden shed.

I started on the 6\” x 6\” corner posts

The raw post.

The same post burnt

The same post burnished and ready for assembly.

It would have helped, if I could have had a second pair of hands to keep the process going, but I have the time, and to be honest, I am enjoying it.

Here is a short video showing the four stages for each piece of wood, of which there are six sides, albeit they will change.
1. Burning
2. Burnishing
3. Air cleaning
4. Hand cleaning

It is a dirty job, but very satisfying, and after the burnishing process, the wood is smooth and shiny, so there is no sanding required, and the colour is as dark as you want it, altered by the amount of burn, so the only finishing process, for me, will be waxing it, with home made bees wax polish, once assembled.

I will still have to burn each piece again, after they are cut to size, and holes drilled for carriage bolts, just to keep the wood colour, but it will just be spot burning.

Because we are in  winter, and the storms come anytime after midday, I am working mornings only, as of today, I have completed about half the wood pile, the next photo shows after I finished yesterday.

I am keeping it all in a covered area outside the workshop, but even so we have tropical storms, so the rain is pounding from every direction, to help, I have the wood raised off the floor. I now just have the  2 x 10s and the 1 x 3s left to do.

Covid is effecting us again, numbers have been rising, albeit in our municipality they are like a yoyo, at the moment going down again, but the Department / County as a whole is rising sharply, so they have brought restrictions in again, from yesterday until April 5th, yes, as usual over the Bank Holiday period, just to spoil everyone\’s fun, albeit, we don\’t see it effecting up much, it just means we can only enter shops every other day, Restaurants are not effected.

I am due to have my vaccination during the next month, I am just waiting for the details, but that may be delayed, as all news of vaccination numbers has ground to a halt, so maybe there is a problem getting the vaccines, probably thanks to the EU.

Today, we had our address changed again, we live in a Vereda, which is a designated rural area within the Municipality, we were pretty much abandoned, because we lived in Vereda Alto del Mercado, which is a mouthful in itself, but the Vereda, had it\’s corner cut off years ago by a main road, and we were adopted by the adjoining area. Today we are now in an area known only as \’Brisas\’ which translates as Breezes,  with a new house number, all our adjoining areas have amalgamated  as well.  Now we are totally Brisas, because our address is:
Brisas (Vereda)
Las Brisas + number (House name)
Brisas del Rio (the sector)
As a result I have been busy notifying all those who need to know officially, that our address has changed.

Falling to Bits

 Sorry to have not posted for a while, I\’ll explain later.

The bedroom floor was completed, and looks lovely

More to the point, we don\’t have to worry about going through the floor, although like the lounge, it turned out to only have moved an inch or so, due to poor workmanship.

The final job for Jaime was to re-felt part of the house roof, and that has been done

Photos courtesy to Jaime…You didn\’t expect me to get up there did you?

February 19th was Marcela and my 9th Wedding Anniversary, how time flies, but because it fell during the week, we had arranged to go for a meal the  following Sunday, and that had to be cancelled, because in the early hours of Saturday, I had an attack, of what the Doc thinks is Vertigo, I am still having tests to try and resolve it. Anyway the attacks continued throughout Saturday, and Marcela contacted the Emergency Doctor during the evening, who prescribed medication.

Marcela was able to find a Chemist to deliver, and within an hour of taking the tablets the vertigo and nausea had subsided, but I have been left with a balance problem.

My first set of tests, have shown I have an inner ear problem, the Specialist thinks that with therapy it can be rectified, however apparently I do have a degree of hearing loss, and in time may need a hearing aid.

All this has restricted my activities, I only drive if Marcela is with me, in case I need to stop and hand over to her, which hasn\’t happened yet, but I\’m not taking any risks.  Activity at home is down to minor jobs, although the last two days, I did escape down to the Abyss, and do some work, and then get a telling off on my return, but I could take the telling off, just to be doing some physical labour again.

I have more ear tests in a couple of weeks, and appointments for my knees the second week in April, so it will be back to the appointment circuit again shortly. 

Busy!

 It\’s been a mixed couple of weeks, I had an appointment through to go and see a Physiatrist, I knew it was going to be a waste of time, and I wasn\’t disappointed. The last time I went to see one, he sent me to a physiotherapist, for my knees in 2015, and the therapist damaged my spinal column, this one was an old Biddy, who when she came into the consulting room, I thought she was an escaped Patient from somewhere else!

She turned out to be an old Battle axe, she stated the Orthopaedic Surgeon I had seen had mis-diagnosed me, and I still had cartilage, she was not interested in that I was waiting to see a knee Specialist in April, only in imparting her own orders, which were that I would have Physiotherapy, Hydrotherapy, and see a Nuitritionalist, however once home, Marcela and I talked it over, and postponed all the appointments, until after I have seen the Specialist, using the excuse, or reason, that I wasn\’t prepared to mix in the Public arena, until I have been vaccinated, they accepted that, and said to make contact once I was ready. 

Back home, I have finished the Building materials Store, I bit the bullet and bought zinc panelling, and covered it.

At least now everything is protected from the elements.

I then had to start preparing for Jaime and his team to move in again, so Marcela and I moved everything out of the bedroom.

We did it over a couple of days, then it was ready for them to dig up the floor, it was on the cards for them to do the same in the ensuite bathroom, but I got cold feet, the sanitary-ware was damned expensive, and if broken in moving it, would have been an unnecessary expense, likewise we would have had to remove the shower screens, and in replacing them, we would have had to drill more holes in the walls, so it was agreed, that unless it appeared that there was no other option, the bathroom wouldn\’t be touched, other than to paint it, fortunately that has turned out to be the case, even though it has left me with three meters of bathroom floor tiles!

Monday the digging started

and they tamped the floor, laying the re-inforcing wiremesh ready for the concrete.

Yesterday, they came and laid the new concrete

and today, they are laying the tiles.

Whilst they were laying the concrete yesterday, I escaped into the garden, and painted the tree trunks with Cal, not only to protect them from the sun, but it\’s also a deterrent for ants.

 I did 36 of them, before running out of Cal, so that\’s about 50%, Marcela has been for more Cal today, so I\’ll probably do the rest tomorrow, weather allowing.

This morning it was time to do a bit of digging

The weeds were starting to overtake the new fruit trees, that was my exercise for the day!

In the top right of the above photo, you can see the new house taking shape, whether it becomes a nuisance all now depends on the roof, they just have to put the ring beam on top of the walls, and then the roof goes on, it will block some of our view, the question is, how much?

I have had the wildlife camera running, but nothing further of interest has been spotted so far, I keep moving it every three or four days, and will continue to do so, I\’m sure there is more going on down the garden, than we have seen so far.

Progress

 I haven\’t been back down the Abyss to finish clearing the undergrowth, my knees couldn\’t take it, so I have been working closer to the house.

I have a lot of building materials left over from Jaime\’s work, more than I would like, when I look at the value, but it can be used in the future, however it needed to be protected from the climate, so I had to make another Store, I decided that it would be a wooden frame, with a temporary cover, using a tarpaulin I had lying around doing nothing.

I wanted to try out a new method of construction with the timber, well, new to me that is, so having dug the holes for the supporting posts, I set to work.

It involved burning every piece of timber, using a gas torch, this apparently seals the timber, both from the elements, and from insects, it took a while to do, but it looks OK.

I finally finished moving all the materials into the store this morning.

The rest of my time has been taken up with Medical appointments, I went to see an Orthopaedic Surgeon last week regarding my knees, he confirmed that I have no cartilage, just bone on bone, so he is referring me to a a Specialist in knees, apparently a false knee is not the only option, and this man operated on my Surgeon\’s Aunt who is 70, the day after surgery she was climbing stairs.

My appointment has come through for 8th April, so I am feeling more hopeful than I have in a while.

The same day, I also saw another Dermatologist regarding my skin cancer, that didn\’t go so well, she admitted that it wasn\’t her field, and then tried to persuade me to book some rather expensive processes, which for now, I am not doing. Marcela is making one final effort to get an appointment with my former Specialist, I still don\’t know why they have been ignoring us, we will see, but at the moment, I have nothing that is actually bothering me, knees are the priority.

This week, I am going to have to do some house moving, as Jaime is returning a week tomorrow, to dig up and put a new concrete floor in our bedroom, and possibly bathroom, also strip the tiles off part of the roof and re felt between the tiles and wood, to stop rain coming in, which it only does if travelling horizontal! however I don\’t want the wood rotting.

Making the most of the fine Weather

 I am sorry to be away so long, but it has been all work and Medical appointments, with little time for anything else.

Firstly a brief health update. As a result of the problems with my knees, I have been for the X-rays, and I have been diagnosed with Osteopedia, apparently it\’s one step away from Osteoporosis and means my bones are breaking up, apparently it can\’t be reversed, I have an appointment on February 4th with an Orthopaedic Surgeon, so should know a bit more then.


I also have an appointment with a Dermatologist the same morning for my Skin Cancer, I have had absolutely no response from my last Specialist, who I had seen for six years, whether he has decided to deal only with private patients now, I have no idea, but I had to make a decision, so we\’ll see what happens.

Finally on the health front, I had my two year eyesight test last week-end, and found I needed new glasses, which was a relief, because I have been having a lot of problems recently with blurred vision, I should have them next week, I will finally be able to see again when driving! hahaha…well maybe not!

Workwise, because I may in the end be off my legs because of my knees, I have been working every day, to get the fencing done, and start work clearing the land at the bottom of the garden, which can only be described as jungle.

I finished the fencing down to the stream bank, hopefully it will last a few years.

This is what had to be cleared, if I wanted to reclaim the land, of which there is a fair bit, I started off with my billhook and the brushcutter, it was/is hard work, I also had to be careful as our Gardener warned me there are snakes, so far I have been lucky, and not seen one, I hope my luck holds out, but that could be due to something else that I will mention in a minute.

All these saplings were a pain in the backside, so another gadget came into play

It\’s a chainsaw, but only eight inch blade, and battery operated, it is ideal for the job, and has been an absolute blessing.

I have probably done two thirds of the clearing now, once it is all done I will have to have a number of small fires to get rid of all the rubbish.

Back to why there may be no snakes, it turns out we have a friend living at the bottom  of the garden, you may remember I posted about burrows found, well I bought a wildlife trail camera, attached it to a tree, and left it a few days.

It turns out that we have at least one Possum, and they are known to eat snakes, because they are not effected by the venom, long may he/she stay around.
This work accounted for two to three hours each morning, the hardest part was dragging the cut rubbish out of the work zone, two steps up, three back, it was like working in a sauna, by the time I had climbed out of the abyss at the end of each session, I stripped off, had a shower, and then couldn\’t move for the rest of the day, my knees killed me, which brings me to another subject.

Had anything happened to me down in the abyss, I had no way of calling for help, there is no cellphone signal, and it was too far away to shout for help, so an accident with a powertool, or snake bite, and I was on my own… Not any more!

I bought these fellas, and they work a treat, the conversation is as clear as crystal, I have mine in my jacket at all times, and the other is on the kitchen counter, if Marcela doesn\’t hear, there is a siren alert, we\’ve tried it, and there is no way she wouldn\’t hear that, so I think we have all bases covered.

One problem we have, and if any of you have an answer, please comment

A family of \’Los Carpinteros\’ better known back in the UK as Woodpeckers, have taken a liking to the neighbours main electricity pole, it\’s in their garden, but would end up on our roof, just like their tree did, I don\’t want to harm them, but I could do with them finding another pecking site. Any advice, gratefully received.

Getting There

 Christmas and New Year came and went, as did our Family! and it was time to get stuck into work again, but first it was time to admit that I am another year older, at the time, we had few restrictions, so Marcela took me out for lunch, we went to a Restaurant in Marinilla, \’Elemental\’, 

Lovely food, could just have done with a bit more of it!


We went early, even though we had booked it is no guarantee if there is a queue outside, and it is a popular location. By the time we left, they were turning people away.

It was a lovely meal, with great Company, in a great location, who could ask for more.

Now at least I can forget Birthdays (mine) for another year! 😂

It was time to get serious again, and back to work.
That meant fencing, and facing the trips up and down into the Abyss, both carrying tools and equipment, and the wooden posts, I will argue with any Doctor who says that does not constitute exercise, every day I worked down there, I finished looking as if I had been in a sauna, had to strip of then hobble into the shower.

As a result, I am nearly done, I am about four metres from the bottom of the orchard, only another two posts to go, then I have to decided if I am going to clear the final bank down to the brook / stream, if so, I will continue the fencing once it is cleared.

At the moment my favourite tool is a billhook

it\’s small, but does a far better job than a machete, I couldn\’t find them over here, I had to send for it, via Amazon, I just hope all the noise I make, means I don\’t come across any snakes, because this would be a bit close for comfort.

It\’s not the most professional job in the world, but at least our boundary is clearly marked again. Hopefully it will be finished next week.

This week, my wildlife camera arrived, again from Amazon, wasting no time, I took it down and set it up overlooking one of the entrances to the burrow in the Abyss, I shouldn\’t have rushed it, because I went down yesterday and found… nothing, it wasn\’t working. I brought it back up, and spent an hour or two playing with it.

My fault, I had formatted the sd card on my computer, not in the camera, so after a couple of successful trials, I took it back down into the Abyss, and will leave it there a few days, before going back to it. Hopefully I will have some video to show you by the time I publish a post.

We are back in 100% lockdown, I would like to say that it is because the Departmental Governor is concerned for our Health, but in reality, we have been locked down for a week, so the majority can\’t cause any problems by celebrating \’The Kings\’. As it was, we could only leave the house every other day, and this latest measure,was announced on Thursday afternoon, our day to go out, but we had enough in to last us until Saturday, so had not been out, as a result, we did a mad dash to the Supermarket, and have enough until the middle of this next week. The lockdown ends Tuesday morning, unless they extend it, will will just have to wait and see.

Fighting a Losing Battle!

 I have been feeling a bit sorry for myself these last few weeks, no sooner than one ailment resolves itself, and another raises it\’s ugly head, I seem to have got myself into a never ending circle, the only good thing about it all, is that I know there are plenty of people worse off than myself, so I keep trudging on.

The problem with my knees and back, meant I was not walking properly, that in turn caused me to have hip pain, as a result, I haven\’t been sleeping at night, because I can\’t get comfortable.

Looking on the bright side! the weather has picked up, we are in another summer, and it has been hot during the day, and only wet at night. The result of that has been heavy mists in the early morning.

I have started using the old tyres that were buried in the garden to make a series of steps in the orchard

I haven\’t yet mastered this, because they are starting out fine at the bottom, buried underground, but by the time I am five tyres up, I am above ground, I am going to have to play around with this to get it right. I won\’t install any more until that\’s done.

Then it was time to prepare for Christmas, there was a certain amount of uncertainty, because the rumours were that we were going to be in total lockdown again, but in the end, there were minor restrictions in place, nothing that stopped the family coming, thank goodness, Marcela would have been murder to live with if that had been the case.

We have had a relaxing time, my Sister-in-law and her husband had to leave on Sunday for work, and will be returning tomorrow, for New Year, leaving my Mother-in-law and Nephew here for the week.

During which time I have been back down the orchard doing some fencing, many of the post were rotten, they needed replacing, a couple I did before Christmas with the petrol auger, but it really doesn\’t go deep enough to make the posts firm, carting the auger up and down the hill, was also doing my back in.

I needed to go into the neighbours garden to clear all the rubbish growing over the barbed wire fence, since no one is living there at the moment, I made a discovery, someone has been trying to take our land, the bases of the broken posts were clearly visible at the bottom of the bank on their side, but someone had pulled the posts to the top of our embankment. 

I went back and collected together all my fencing tools and set to work, I wasn\’t leaving this for another day, or I risked losing land permanently.

I left the old posts in place, whilst attaching the new ones, it was like having another pair of hands, you can see one of the posts still in situ at the top of the bank to the right of centre.

further down the hill, it appears the boundary does indeed come  up the bank, but as it\’s not so steep, it\’s not as noticeable. since I couldn\’t find the old post bases, I left them where I found them.

Now I need to continue down the hill, before anyone tries to claim any more land.

Today, I spent the morning at the Docs, it was time for my regular Blood Pressure check up, fortunately all went well, and the weight, I thought I had put on over Christmas, was only what I had lost since seeing him last, as it registered no weight change!

The Doc is sending me for radiography on my knees, to see if I need the insides cleaning again, or whether I need knee replacement, that will be interesting! He also gave me an order for an eye test and for a dental checkup, as we haven\’t been able to get an appointment, they are only doing emergencies, unfortunately even with the order it didn\’t help, telephone appointments only, which when your problem is your eyes or your teeth seems absolutely ludicrous.