Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tico House Re-do almost finished!

Changes, changes, changes....

You can see some of the exterior changes from the 'before' and 'current'... The aviary is still there and the planter is still there...but the old roof has been removed, termite ridden boards replaced and new, higher roof supported by a new steel structure has changed everything! Also the bedroom window was moved to provide a better bedroom feel and high windows allow for ventilation and more light to the new vaulted ceilings. My wonderful neighbor builders are saying it'll be done this next week and all I can say is, for about $15,000 - I'll have an all new house and some wonderful spaces.... a new bedroom, an office with a light well above for daylighting, closets (finally), etc. I'll still have the kitchen and bath to remodel - but....poco a poco...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Learning to Let Go...Again

January, 2011

An update.
I’ve much to say but not much time or willingness to say it. I find myself overwhelmed, but continuing to move along bit by bit. Probably I bit off more than I could chew (and those of you who know me well are nodding your heads) – and find myself stepping cautiously now that I got zapped by the unexpected and extremely rare – a big rain storm in the wee hours of Saturday morning. January is dry here in Costa Rica. And if there is any precipitation, it is in the form of an afternoon shower. Or so we thought.

The plan was to remove the old, leaky rusted metal roof and replace it with a new roof on my house. And the plan was to keep the separate low fiberboard ceiling over my personal rooms - my bathroom, bedroom and office – so that I could continue to sleep, work and bathe in the house until the end of the building process. I would be able to eat and teach in the new studio with its new kitchen. I found particular delight in seeing the moonrise through the roofless kitchen.

There was just one 12 hour period of time when the entire house would be exposed and roofless.

Friday, January 21.
At about 1:30 a.m. – I was soundly asleep in my little bedroom, beneath the low ceiling of fiberboard protecting me from the night air, full moon, streetlights and any really loud noise. Then I heard something out of the ordinary that sounded like a light tapping. Couldn’t be rain. I got up and as I stepped into water on the floor my mind tried a quick denial and then moved to full alert! As I opened my bedroom door, I saw the house walls and new steel roof framing illuminated by the street light beyond – with some eerie electric wires hanging from the interior walls – through rain! And it was pretty hard rain! Then I noticed one particular wire was smoking. Instantly I understood that if the couple of wires in the corner that touched the floor were hot, I would not even be seeing what I saw. So I felt initially safe from electrocution, but now worried about all the electronics in my office. Water dripped from the rain soaked ceiling onto my computers, printer, modem, back up and disk drives – as well as everything else that accumulated there. I grabbed my phone and called neighbors Anita and Oscar and Billy. I got two out of the 3 and just as I was thinking what I could use to cover the electronics from more damage, the phone rang and it was Frank. He too was awakened by rain at his farm and immediately wondered about my exposed house and me. As soon as he heard me he drove the 1/2 hour distance to help. And as morning dawned Frank and I and workers, Oscar and Alonso struggled to cover the low ceiling above from more rain and carry the boxes of books, art supplies, paintings and electronics out into the dry studio. When the sun finally emerged at around noon, the guys were welding and finishing the entire roof while too many damp books dried in the sun. Fashioning some emergency clotheslines, Frank hanged all my wet clothes and linens out along with the bed sheets, and mattress cover...

the old wiring outside my bedroom....before the rain and after the rain and roof

So now my new orderly studio is in complete disarray as I add new books and paintings needing to dry to the sunny side counter outside and stack those that have finished drying on a table to be put back into clean, dry boxes when we find some. Most of the paintings are saved. I’ve lost photographs and all my giclee prints. It appears that the moisture was just too much for them.

Above left. Still raining lightly in the morning. Above right. Afternoon sun and the drying out...

You wonder why I’m taking time out to write? For some reason writing is soothing. Though talking about it is difficult, the words I type are clean and neat and orderly – so unlike my current life. I know that the sentences have beginnings and endings and this little chapter of my life has had its beginning and will eventually have its ending. Also writing gives me badly needed perspective. Once again I’m finding myself learning how to let go of things. In the middle of all of this I was called to San Jose to do an urgent task for my 2 years and counting residency application. On my way home from San Jose on the bus I happened to sit beside a 30 year old Tico man, Jose. We talked non stop for 3 hours in English he had taught himself. And he reminded me about the lessons of letting go of material possessions. What a treat it is to happen upon the young people who can turn this world around. Thank you, Jose.... I needed some reminding and there you were!

And today Frank came up again to help – and we made some really good progress with the drying out and re boxing. It ain’t much, but I have a little makeshift office in the outdoor studio with a plastic desk and my New Mexico cow skull hanging on the rocks. And I’m letting go again.....

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve and the refrigerator is IN!

It is Christmas Eve.

At noon today I got the best Christmas gift ever – from me to me – by way of two very hard workers, my Tico neighbors Oscar and Alonzo – and Oscar’s son, David. The rancho studio was completed last summer and now it was time to finish the dream – an outdoor kitchen and partial wall with an open view to the valley below. My workers speak only Spanish and have never before attempted many of the things I asked them to do. I’d sketch it out and describe it in words and gestures – and Oscar invariably responded with a big smile and a hearty, ‘no problema, Jan!’ So now my guests in the cabinas can walk down to this open air kitchen and cook, make coffee, look out over the city and just enjoy! And Frank and I will be enjoying it too!

So here it is! Pretty much exactly what I envisioned! And the piece de resistance will be the planter wedged above the tile backsplash against the rock retaining wall containing fresh herbs. Si!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tope is the Christmas parade - and a good chance to see Costa Rica in action! In the little town of Rivas, just a few miles outside of San Isidro de El General, Tope happened on a Sunday, scheduled for 10 a.m. but finally getting started around 1:00. First a float - festooned in aluminum foil and carrying a life sized version of the Virgin Mary along with several young girls all dressed up. Then the ox carts - pulled by matching pairs of oxen or cattle - one with Santa! The last of the parade featured horses and riders from the gaited, high stepping Costarricense Paso alongside riders on all sorts of other animals, including water buffalo!