Caught up!

We are nearly up to date, and as this is more of a Diary for me and my Family, I can’t promise that there will be regular updates, therefore if you subscribe, you will be informed when I put finger to Keyboard! Yep, I’m certainly no typist…

Having completed the bulk of the Bunkbed project, I have been looking for those little jobs that need doing, just to keep me occupied, before starting on the stairs.

One of those jobs, was what I would call an improvement, rather than a necessity, and that was to replace some of our ‘new’ electric sockets, with sockets, incorporating USB power, for using and charging those gadgets that run out of battery just when you need them most, and haven’t got a charger handy.

I have put them in the spare bedrooms (not ours, because our socket is behind the bed, and we use short extension leads), the lounge, workshop, office, and the outside covered sitting area, now I just have to go round and touch up around the sockets, either just with paint, as in this example, or a bit of filler, then they are done. Woodwork, Electricity, Plumbing, no problem, I’ll give it a go, but never ask me to play with gas, if you can’t see or smell it, I won’t touch it!

We have decided to make an investment, we are absolutely fed up with the service given by our Energy Supplier, EPM which has a monopoly. We think the infrastructure for this area is ‘End of Life’, and is constantly breaking down, whether there is a storm or not, we get power cuts nearly on a weekly basis, these can vary from minutes to 36 hours.

A Neighbour gave us the phone number of the local Engineer for the Company, he would be sacked, if he worked anywhere but here. If Marcela phones him, to try and hurry things along, he will say he is not coming out until the rain stops, or until he’s had his breakfast, or it’s too dark to find the fault, wait until daylight.

We’ve had enough, we are installing a Solar Energy system, which we are assured will provide more than enough for our needs, except possibly when I am working on a big project in the workshop, there will be battery back-up for night time, and what power we don’t use will go back into the Grid, and they will pay us for that unused electric.

Hopefully it will be installed next week, the only hiccup so far has been over the payment, it’s no ones fault, it’s just the way things work in Colombia, the Banks cause so many problems for Companies, that they will go out of their way not to use certain high-street names, and ask Clients to pay direct to personal accounts, which we are not happy about. No disrespect, but we don’t know those Individuals, and for us it’s a big investment. So it has been decided that we are going to pay cash, into the one Bank, the Company is registered with, that way we know it’s gone to the Company, and at the same time, because it’s not our Bank, we won’t get hammered for transfer charges.

If this and the installation all goes smoothly, I will put details of the Company on here, but I can’t recommend them until then, I would hate anyone to have a bad experience, on my say so!

This afternoon, I am off yet again to Rionegro for more Vertigo tests, I was at a different Clinic yesterday for therapy, today the session takes up to an hour, and apparently I might be throwing up, which will be interesting, and those of you who know me, noisy! so I have to have an early lunch, and hope for the best, I will take a change of clothes just in case.

OK, time for me to tidy up, and get ready for an early lunch.

Catch Up…. Part 2

I guess this revolves around my health, I seem to have been spending nearly as much time with Doctors, as I have at home, and that continues for the forseeable future.

I had the nerve pain block injections in both knees, and they worked, thank goodness, I have found that they don’t help me walk any further, but during the day I am relatively pain free, as long as I don’t try to overdo it, and that is certainly a bonus.

The MRI scan on both knees has been done, here, they give you the scan on a CD along with the written report, to take to the Specialist, so obviously we have have a sneak peak, looking as the CD meant absolutely nothing, as we haven’t a clue what to look for, but the written report, is far from encouraging, and whether the Surgeon will have enough material to work with is debateable, however until I see him on July 1st, I am just keeping my fingers crossed.

Then there is the Vertigo, unfortunately episodes of that, are becoming more frequent, I am going for therapy every week, initially the Doctor thought the vertigo had passed because she couldn’t initiate an episode, and my problem was just with equilibrium or balance, but after my first appointment they started again, and now my therapy has changed gear, to treating the vertigo.

Apparently I have, Positional Vertigo, which she has explained and shown me videos on Youtube to help, is as a result of calcium crystals, which are in a tube in the ear, and should be stuck in one place, in my case have come loose, and when they move, this causes everything to spin uncontrollably, the therapy is to try and ensure the crystals return to their rightful place and stay there. I also have daily exercises to do, but I can’t do them alone in case it triggers and episode and I fall striking my head, so Nurse Marcela has taken charge…She’s worse than an old school Matron, ha! ha! ha! what would I do without her?

Everything in Colombia, seems to have gone relatively quiet on the subject of Covid 19, even though the number of cases are rising again, most restrictions have been lifted, with the exception of wearing masks when outside your own house, and social distancing, the Government is in a cleft stick, in reality the restrictions we had for the first six months should have been continued, but the Country can’t afford it, unlike many countries there isn’t the financial capacity to given assistance, what assistance that was given, was only what would have been given to the poor anyway, it was just brought forward.
The rest of the help came from Family, Friends, Neighbours, and even Strangers, both in the form of food or financial donations, most Public Utility Bills were put on hold, they will still have to be paid at some point, but it delayed the stress of finding the money until later.

How did this effect us? in reality not a lot, yes we had to comply with the strict obligations, when we left the house, but we could live with those, unlike many we didn’t have the financial worries that many had, this is the benefit of being a pensioner, that pension still keeps coming every month, and again because of the restrictions, we were not spending as much, so had funds to help others, both family and friends.

The vaccination program, which was extremely slow to get started, is picking up a pace, the main three vaccines being used are, Pfizer, Astra Zeneca and the Chinese Sinovac, the latter seems to be being used more for those who don’t pay into the Health System, although they are now buying the Johnson and Johnson one injection vaccine, to send out to the remote areas, where it is difficult to send supplies.
As I have said previously, I have had both my vaccine jabs, I was given Pfizer, Marcela is due to have her first, in the next couple of weeks, and has been told it will probably be Astra Zeneca, over here we are just glad to get a vaccine, unlike those over in the EU who seem to be very picky!

To be cont’d

Catch Up… Part 1

When I left, I was in the process of building a double, double bunkbed, and it went well, the hardest part was carrying all the parts into the house, as I had no option but to fully assemble it in situ, which was no mean feat, as these photos show.



Although the bed is rustic, it is not quite as rustic as in the photo, it is so big, in the bedroom, I couldn’t get a straight photo, so had to do a panorama sweep, and my hands aren’t that steady.

I then polished the whole frame, using my homemade beeswax polish, and fitted the slats

We had decided to make the most of the space available here, we also have the Cabaña / apartment with a double. With the bunkbeds, we have two further doubles, and decided to add a single platform bed to go under, giving us space for a total of seven guests, so that was the next phase.

This was the dry fit, I then burnt all the cut ends and screw holes in the exterior frame, and screwed it together.

Over the next few days I installed the individual reading lights, and the mattresses. I now just have to construct a storage staircase to fit at the bottom of the bed, that has taken longer to decide on a design, due to space constraints, but I think I now know how it will go.

You may have noticed, that the bed changed position from the first photo of the whole frame above, that is because it was taking up too much room, leaving no room for the single platform. I made the mistake of trying to move it on my own, even though I have glued sliders under each leg, the fact that they are 6″x6″ and the frame 2″x10″ makes it extremely heavy, and I think I did some damage to myself in the process.

Anyway with the help of Marcela and a Neighbour we managed to get it in place.

I decided that some sort of storage was needed to put the false teeth, or mobile phones, so threw together a couple of wall shelves, one for the bunkbed and another for the Cabaña

We have since had visitors, and these worked as intended, so I am pleased with the result.


Going back to my ‘injury’, I thought it was just muscular and I would work through it, but a month later, I am still suffering, so it looks like something else to add to the Doctors list!

To be cont’d.

I feel like a Fraud… I’m Back

After having given up on Google, they made it so hard to make any adjustments to Blogs or to comply with their, what I considered restrictive practices using Blogger, that I left it for a few weeks, and then yesterday decided to take the bull by the horns and try to set up the Blog on WordPress.

It’s taken me a while, but I think it’s working. I have been able to import the old Blog in it’s entirety from Blogger, so I haven’t lost much, if anything!

A lot seems to have happened since I stopped the old Blog, so rather than rushing it, and leaving out all the boring parts, ( a shame, I don’t think I have emojis on here) 🙂 I will come back and write a couple of catch up posts over the next couple of days.

However I will share one bit of news today and that is, contrary to all the rumours that had been spreading, I have now had both my Covid 19 Vaccination Jabs, the second one being last week, and we are hopeful that Marcela will have her first in the next two weeks. the only difference we think, is that I had Pfizer which were three weeks apart, and she will have Astra Zeneca which are three months apart here, but at least protection is nearly here.

OK, that’s it for today, I have spent most of the days working ou5t how to transfer the Blog, and my Darling Wife thinks I have abandoned her, so time to go and make amends!

Thank You!

 I have looked at various ways of updating the Blog to make it function, I have also looked at alternatives to Blogger, and to be honest they don\’t work for me.

I have therefore decided that after nine and a half years it is time to hang up my Blog once and for all.

Thanks to those of you who have followed my exploits, for the most part it has been fun, but now I seem to have more than enough to keep me occupied, I have never monetized the Blog, and that was never my intention, it was as much a diary for me, as information for you. 

With all my current medical commitments, I have been neglecting the Blog much more than I would have liked, and unlike in Copacabana, where the office was alongside the bedroom, here it\’s outside, during the current crop of storms, I can\’t bring myself to hobble through the rain.

I wont make any more excuses, just to say, that for now at least, or until I find a Platform that works for me, this will be my last post.

Thank you all again.

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.