Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Why is it so hard to come up with a title for this post?

I've spent the past five minutes trying to come up with a title.
I got nothin'.

So let's just move on...

We've had some crazy weather this week. Sunday night a huge thunder and lightning storm woke us up from a sound sleep, and the torrents of rain kept us up. Discovered a few more leaks in the roof. *sigh*  Three small ones in the bedroom (where the roof had been fixed -- we thought) and a big one in the kitchen (that roof is still waiting to be fixed). We realized that the leakage issue has more to do with wind velocity and direction than the actual rain.

Then Monday night we were awakened by a huge wind storm. A few loud booms were kinda scary but, since the power went off and the flash light was in the garage rather than the house, we had to wait until morning to investigate and find out what caused them.

One was simply a few metal shelving units falling over like dominoes on the patio. Ivan bought them at a compre-venta (used furniture/odds 'n ends place) on Saturday and we have to do some organizing in the garage to make room for them. So we'd put them next to the garage, on the slab that will someday serve as the floor to our home. We're calling it the "patio".

The other big boom was a tree falling on the roof of the casita. Thankfully it was a small tree that did no significant damage. We are grateful for the Lord's protection!

The tree that fell on the casita was in the green space behind our property. We saw four other trees that went down back there, too. But our only concern was cutting off the one that landed on our place.

It was nice to have a more restful night last night, somewhat making up for all the sleep we missed the previous couple of nights. But I'm still kind of dragging today.

Our field leader is here for a few days, and he and Ivan are checking out hotels, looking for a possible venue for our missionary conference next year. We're also gearing up for tomorrow, when Ivan and a couple missionary friends will be going into an area high school. They'll be leading some team-building games and giving a short talk. The school has experienced some serious problems with violence and intolerance so the principal asked Ivan if he could help. He'll also be going in next month to talk to the students, and then the parents. But tomorrow is more about utilizing some fun activities to get the kids to think about communication, cooperation and team work.

Meanwhile we don't have a lot of time to devote to projects on the casita, so those have been put on hold. We did get the shelf up over the bed, but the ones I painted over the weekend are still out in the garage. Poco a poco.

We discovered that garbage is only picked up three times a week in our neighborhood: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If there's a holiday -- and most holidays fall on Mondays or Fridays, to take advantage of a long weekend -- there's no make-up day. So since we moved here and have had several holidays, the garbage has only been picked up 7 times in 4 weeks. I wonder why the difference in service between here and where we used to live? Garbage was picked up five times a week there, and if there was a holiday, the garbage was picked up the next day even if it was one of the days it typically didn't run. Sound a little inequitable to you? Hmmmmmm.

Before we moved over here, we learned that drug dealers lived across the street, so we began praying that God would move them out. He did! A couple weeks after we moved in, they had a really LOUD party that lasted overnight, and then they were gone. Our next-door neighbor told us that the woman who owned the property had somehow managed to get them evicted (they had usurped her land, and here usurpers have more rights than land owners most of the time). That last big party was their final parting "gift" to the neighborhood. Amazing how much quieter it is now that we don't have a constant stream of people going in and out over there.

I so enjoyed seeing lots of autumn foliage in the Project 365 posts this week! It's the one season I really miss, since this is a more temperate climate and we just don't get a very extensive color change in the fall. Here we're experiencing a lovely spring, with everything green and lush, and quite a few trees already flowering. I'm looking forward to (Ivan) working some magic our yard. WHEN the bobcat guy finally makes it over here to level out the lot, he will be able to get started. Although, seeing how many other things Ivan has on his plate, I'll have to help out or we won't get anything done.

But can't do anything until the bobcat guy makes his appearance. We were rained out last week, so rescheduled for this Monday. Which is when we got the big torrential downpour -- so now he's supposed to come the end of this week. We shall see...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Feeling very shelf-ish

I'm once again painting shelves. With a small space you can either use lots of enclosed storage or go the opposite direction with open shelving. Since I think too many cabinets would just make our space seem smaller, we're opting for open shelves in every room.

In the kitchen we already have one shelf above the sink. Today I'm painting another we'll use in there, to house the large toaster oven and all our coffee-making paraphernalia. We used this same shelf at the house on Canning, for the toaster oven and bottled water-with-spigot contraption. Since we have a brand new water tank here, we're just using tap water rather than buying bottled, so we took off the bottled water thing and now I'll have room for coffee-related items. There's a small shelf underneath the larger one which will be perfect for all my mugs, too.

We're re-using the bathroom shelf too. It's MDF covered in a wood-look melamine veneer, which was fine for the house on Canning but I'm painting it white for this bathroom.

White just works best in small spaces, since it recedes. That's why I'm using so much in the casita... on the walls, ceilings, shelves, and as much of the furniture as I can get away with :)

The shelf for the bedroom is ready but we haven't installed it yet. Maybe this weekend. Along with the ones I'm painting today (and tomorrow, since they'll require multiple coats).

While I really like most clutter to be kept behind closed doors, I'm embracing the concept of open shelves -- as long as I can keep them neat and orderly. For example, in the bedroom I plan to use some large, fabric-lined baskets to keep things accessible but hidden. In the bathroom I'll be using some collapsible fabric boxes. And over the kitchen sink I'm only putting items that are white, clear or stainless steel. For the most part. I have also added in some turquoise glasses for a pop of color. But overall, my goal is for an orderly, low-impact look.

My motley mug collection will be semi-hidden because that shelf is inset under the larger one AND will be going on a wall that's not so visible except from certain angles in the kitchen.

I'm thankful for the many baskets collected over the years, because I'm finding places for them all over the casita. Big, small, doesn't matter. Keeping the clutter collected is my goal, and baskets serve that purpose well.

I'm also re-thinking storage in the kitchen. We borrowed a hutch from the house in Sta. Rosa but it isn't working out as well as I'd hoped. At first I thought the best thing to do would be to keep an eye out for a tall, long but narrow cabinet with doors. But after perusing my inspiration photos on Pinterest, I've decided I'd rather have Ivan build me an open cabinet that we can put a countertop on, and I can sew a skirt to hide the shelves below. Very cottagey and very practical, since countertop space is practically non-existent in my kitchen. I have about 30 cm (12 inches) on one side of the sink and 45 cm (18 inches) on the other. Mostly I use the small folding table (that we're using for a dining table) as a work station for mixing, chopping, etc.

The only thing is: Ivan already has a TO DO list that's waaaaaaay too long. But I'm okay with waiting a while, because I'm in no big hurry. As with everything else, I know we'll get things done eventually. Poco a poco.

What's your preferred method for corralling the clutter?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rain, rain, go away...

We've had a lot of rain lately.
Right now we're sitting in an YPF station waiting for the rain to let up enough to make a run for the car. All morning it's been raining off and on, mostly a light sprinkle, but a few minutes ago the skies opened and the drizzle became a downpour.

It's not just a matter of making it to the car without getting too wet, but Ivan also has to hook the battery back up before we can leave. For a while the car's been having issues with the turn signals coming on and staying on, at odd moments, and if we don't catch it, it drains the battery. Ivan's gone to the electrical guy a couple times but it never acts up for him.
Of course not.
It hadn't been a problem for almost a week, when suddenly last night they came on again when we stopped for gas.

If something actually worked we'd probably fall over in shock.

Every.single.thing has been complicated and/or difficult. From the actual move to getting water to getting gas to hooking up lights to trying to get internet to...

You get the idea.

The purpose for our trip to YPF was so Ivan could use one of their phone booths to call Telecom to have our account switched from our old address to our new one. He couldn't just use our cell phone, the call had to be made from a landline.

Thankfully we had not cancelled our account outright, but waited to see whether we could find a different internet provider. After trying two different internet por aire companies and finding out that wasn't a viable option for us, we realized we'd have to stick with Telecom/Arnet after all. Switching our account to the casita is cheaper than starting anew with them, so I'm glad we had the forethought to hold off on canceling the account.

Another good thing that came of our trip to YPF is that we got to skype for a bit with our daughter. First time since we moved!

My favorite phrase: "Es lo que hay" has received a heavy workout this past month.

Like last week when our septic backed up. Trying to look on the positive side, we decided we were glad it happened before the guy with the bobcat comes and levels out our lot -- and in the process buries our septic tank cover. While we'll be able to dig it out easily, it was nice not to have to do it last week, making the job a little bit easier.
As easy as dealing with backed-up septic can be, anyway.

The rain has revealed some leaks in both roofs (garage and casita). The positive spin: we'd been debating whether to use a rather expensive Sherwin Williams product on the garage, and this tipped us in that direction. It's a specialized rubberized paint that requires several applications but is supposed to be great for flat roofs. We'll have to buy three 20-kilo buckets, which will leave a little bit left over that we can then use on the casita.

In the process of installing light fixtures in the kitchen, something happened and now none of the outlets work in there. One of the outlets in the hall also quit working. I'm still looking for a positive aspect to that. I'm sure there has to be one, but I'm clean out of ideas. Care to suggest any?

Despite the rain, we've made slow but steady progress on projects around the house. The kitchen cabinet sports a new base, the countertop was cut to fit and the sink installed, and now the whole shebang sits proudly in our kitchen, hooked up to the water and fully functional. It's been SOOO nice to be able to do dishes there rather than in the little bin on our folding table. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can check out photos and commentary on my latest Project 365 blog.)

I started cleaning the stove on Saturday but ran out of time and energy before the job was done. It's looking to be a two-can job at minimum (meaning it will require at least two full cans of oven cleaner). I've never seen so much caked-on gunk in my life! I'm not only using the most heavy duty oven cleaner I could find, I'm also using a heavy duty coarse steel thing (cannot think what to call's not steel wool, but something Ivan had in his shop that's made out of steel shavings) because nothing else worked. This is a used stove we bought after looking at it at night, in poor light. Pretty sure it ranks up there among our top ten worst purchases. Live and learn. At least pouring pure bleach on the stovetop reduced the discoloration there significantly. Now if I can just work up the motivation to complete the job, we'll be in business. Meanwhile I'm continuing to use our large toaster oven.

I'm really happy with the shelf we put above the cabinet in the kitchen. Ivan cut it, I painted it, and he installed it. Then I loaded it with various dishes and bowls that were either white, clear or stainless steel, plus the turquoise glasses my mother-in-law brought to Argentina many, many years ago. It's a spot of pretty in a still chaotic space.

But we are getting there! Like I said, slow but steady progress...

We also have a shelf ready to put above the bed, where I'll use some large, fabric-lined baskets to store a variety of things (everything from personal care products to vitamins to craft supplies). Ivan will also be building an open wardrobe in the next week or two, so we can finally unpack the suitcases.

Each item checked off our To Do list is cause for celebration, and makes us all the more grateful for what's getting accomplishing. We realize how each one is a gift and a blessing.