85. Improving Casa Costa Breeze

Breeze says she misses our guests!

Sunday 6/12- What a strange feeling- being alone in our quiet house once again. Breeze just keeps walking around looking; I think she’s wondering where all of the people are! We used today to catch up on some projects around the house, things that needed parts that Taryn and Steven brought down with them but weren’t important enough to do while they were here. We also used today to relax; while having guests here on their vacations are fun for them and for us, it is kind of exhausting! We have gotten so used to quiet afternoons and going to bed early, that having people here and staying up later than normal really takes a lot more energy than we are used to! I would be right back to my regular routine of going to Geiner’s for work tomorrow morning, so I used the afternoon to get prepared for the week including putting together a few convenient things that I could bring with me for lunch. Tomorrow morning would come quicker than I am ready for, so I tried to prepare as much as I could!

Tuesday 6/14- While this blog is mainly here for you to read about our life and adventures in Costa Rica, it does have another great purpose: a chronology of sorts for us to go back to look at when certain things happened. For example, I can tell you it has been MORE than 6 months since we began trying to get internet at our new house. I know it’s been more than 6 months, because a blog post back in January mentioned that Ramie was working on finding a company that would hook us up. That, however, is only partially true, though, because Ramie was working on trying to find an internet company since even before that, it was probably back in December, shortly after we returned from our trip to MN, that he started doing the research! I also laugh because in a blog post near the end of January I told you about a conversation that I had with Geiner about having a work “roommate” if we couldn’t get internet. At that time it was just a joke, but a few months later guess who moved in to his home office because we didn’t have internet at our home yet!!

Well, the reason this is significant today, is that this evening we FINALLY got the internet installed at OUR house!

When we first moved into our rental house last year, we had about 6 weeks without internet, and we thought that was a long time! We have now been in our house for over 3 months without the internet, so about twice as long. While it was terribly inconvenient for work purposes, it wasn’t the end of the world (because we have great friends here in CR) and we found a way to survive and make it all work out. I’m excited because now I won’t have to leave every morning to “go to” work, and things will be much more convenient. I think Ramie is excited to have internet so he can start watching Netflix again! 😉

Friday 6/17- Now that we are all moved into our house, have most of the house projects that we wanted to do done, and have our yard landscaping done, we are ready to check off the next item on our wish list: A Greenhouse (or for the locals that may be reading this a invernadero). What? A Greenhouse? You may be wondering why we would need a greenhouse here in Costa Rica where it is warm all the time. Well, let me explain! It’s not a greenhouse like you are used to in MN or other areas that get very cold temperatures and need an enclosure to keep the cold out and let the sun in. Our version of a greenhouse is little more than a roof over some raised planters, and there are three reasons that we need this: 1) to provide some shade so our plants don’t bake to death; 2) to keep out the heavy rains during the rainy seasons so they don’t drown to death; 3) to keep critters out of the plants.

Part of the landscaping project that we had Geiner’s guys do included the first steps of the greenhouse plan. We had them dig in and cement the 4 steel corner posts and put rock down (instead of grass) in the area that would be the garden. While I suppose this is something we technically could have done ourselves, Geiner and his guys had the experience and connections that were needed to do it with a little bit less headache than we would have. Now, today, Ramie got to start working on his part of it!

We previously had some steel delivered to our house, so he didn’t even have to start today with a shopping trip. Today, Ramie got to pull out his toys: the grinder, the welder, and all of the accessories that go along with those toys (I mean, tools!).

I was on my computer, working, and very focused on what I was doing, so I didn’t even notice that he had started working on his project. He was out there measuring and planning, and once in a while I would hear the grinder cutting some metal but didn’t really think anything of it. Around noon he came into the house all sweaty and tired looking and asked me when I would be done working. He was at a point that having another set of hands would really help. Fortunately, I would have my hours in soon, and as soon as I was finished working, could grab some lunch and change, then I could come help him. That was probably ok, though, because Ramie really looked like he could use a break about now.

After I was done working, but before I did those other things that I needed to do, I looked out into the backyard, lo and behold, there were beams going across the top of those 4 corner posts that weren’t there this morning. Ramie had started putting together the framing for the roof this morning while I worked on cases. I was quite impressed with what he had gotten done this morning on his own (and could easily understand why another set of hands would come in handy, I am not quite sure how he did what he had already done on his own!). I quickly changed, grabbed some lunch, and headed outside to help him on the next steps: the framing for the planter boxes.

Yes, he is welding in sandals & shorts. At least he's wearing the helmet & gloves!!

New style? Maybe!

In the planning stage of our greenhouse, we made the very easy decision of having raised planter boxes. We knew we wanted the planters raised up to help keep down the possibility of ground critters (mainly snakes in my mind). Yes, I know things could still get in, but it wouldn’t be as likely for a snake to curl up under one of my plants when they were raised up a few feet off the ground in a floating box. Also, another added bonus was that we could make these high enough where we wouldn’t have to kneel or bend over to weed and harvest our veggies. Since we were making this custom (like all things here), we might as well make it as convenient for ourselves as we possibly could! Our next step, before we even started cutting and welding, would be to decide how high we wanted the top of the planter box and how deep we wanted the planter box, which would then tell us how high off of the ground the bottom support of the planter box would be. We also had to figure out how wide we wanted these planter boxes to be. Who would have expected there would be so much math involved in building my little vegetable garden!?

We decided on our height and width measurements and were finally ready to start cutting and welding. We spent the next few hours working on the supports for the planter boxes and really worked up a sweat. How do Ticos work out in this sun and heat all day every day?! We may never know!! It looked like there was a possibility of some rain moving in, and we really didn’t want the welder and all of the (toys) tools to get wet, so we decided that it would be a good stopping point for the day. We were happy with the progress that we had made and were to a point where we would have to go buy some more material soon anyway. We cleaned up the tools, showered off the dirt and sweat, and took a dip in the pool to cool off. We didn’t end up getting too much rain until much later, but it was ok that we stopped working early. We have plenty of time to finish with our project!

Saturday 6/18- I bet you can guess what our plan for today was. Working on my vegetable garden, of course! Ramie was so productive yesterday that today we would have to start our day by going to the hardware store to pick up more material. The whole structure would be made out of galvanized steel tubing and Ramie had used up most of the long sticks that had been delivered before. Here, this tubing is sold in 19 ½ foot sticks, and unfortunately we have an SUV instead of a traditional truck, so we would have to get creative to get these home. We were lucky that Ramie’s grinder was battery operated, so we decided that we would just bring the grinder with us and cut these pieces down to lengths that would be easier to transport. We knew that we would need several long lengths for the rest of the roof frame and the long sides of the planter boxes, so before we left for the hardware store we had to get back to doing more math and measuring. We were also planning to use multiple sizes of the tubing for different parts of the project, so the first step was to decide which parts would be made out of which sizes, then we had to measure how long each of these pieces would be, and finally, we would do the math to figure out where to make the cuts to maximize the amount of usable tubing and to minimize waste. Our plan wasn’t to make all of these cuts in the hardware store parking lot, but only to make as few as we would have to in order to make them easier to transport in our truck. Once we had all of this math figured out, it was time to go shopping! 

The Warehouse area
While Ramie had been in the “yard” part of the hardware store before, this would be my first time looking at construction materials here. It had a similar feel to those that we were used to back in MN, but also quite different. We found what we needed, made sure they had enough of each in stock, and then proceeded to the checkouts to “place our order”. We happened to run into Geiner at the checkouts and chatted with him for a little while, told him we were working on the greenhouse, and about our idea to cut the steel in the parking lot so that we could get it home in our truck. He was surprised by our creativity, but said that if we knew our measurements, that the guys in the warehouse area had a grinder and would be able to cut it for us as well. Awesome, and very good to know for next time!!

We got our receipt, then drove around to the yard or warehouse area of the hardware store, pulled in, and showed the guys what we had bought. One or two of the guys that worked back there spoke a little bit of English, so between our little bit of Spanish and their little bit of English, we were able to communicate that we would need the metal cut as well. No Problem! Or… was there? Well, of course all of our measurements were in feet and inches, they work off meters and centimeters here (Note to self learn the metric system faster!) Do we have to convert all of this?! If we do convert it, what is the risk of error and our pieces become too short?! Have no fear- we had a feet/inches tape measure with us! Ramie helped the guys measure what we needed, he made the mark on the metal, and then they would just have to cut it at the mark. Whew! Conversion crisis averted! We had about a dozen cuts or so that would have to be made, and after the first few, their grinding wheel broke. No problem, they had another one right there to swap it out. Well, no problem we thought until the guy was struggling to get the old one off. He handed the grinder off to another guy who was still having troubles, and they then handed it to a third guy. After a few minutes of watching this, Ramie stepped in to see if they needed help.

Sure enough, they couldn’t figure out how to get the old grinding wheel off of the tool. Here comes Ramie to the rescue! As familiar with tools as he is, knew that there is a button that you have to press to lock the wheel from spinning and you can then loosen the nut that holds the grinding wheel in place. He showed the guys this button, then how easy it was to remove the old one and put the new one on. You could tell that they were very happy to learn about this and they even laughed and poked fun at each other for such a silly mistake. After they swapped out the wheel, they finished up with all of the cuts, we loaded our purchases into the truck, and off we went to keep working on the greenhouse. 

Saturday, and Sunday 6/19- After we got home from the hardware store with our materials, we got to work right away on more cutting, grinding, welding, and constructing. We really only got to work about a half day each Saturday and Sunday because it started raining in the afternoons. While we were slightly disappointed that we couldn’t keep working to get the project finished quicker, the afternoons (when it doesn’t rain) get kind of hot, so we may have had to quit early anyway. On Saturday it started raining around 2:00 and rained the rest of the afternoon, evening, and overnight. When we got up on Sunday morning it was clearing up, so we could start working again. We did check the rain gauge this morning after all of the rain we got yesterday afternoon & over night and found that in the 16 hours or so since it started raining we had received about 6.5 inches. To be honest, though, this really isn’t a lot compared to what we might end up getting during the same time frame later on in the green season, but this month sure seems awfully wet and its just the beginning of the Green season

Just a little more to finish
We found this guy hanging out in the rocks under the in-process greenhouse.  Don't step on him!!

Pura Vida!



  1. Edie would be in heaven with all of the projects that you have going. She has a lot planned for the cabin as well as improvements to the house in Oakdale, gotta stay busy.
    We are planning on voting tomorrow (11/08) and will be excited to see what kind of good things will happen for the country. Are you still allowed to vote in US elections or must you go through all kinds of hoops? It will still be a privilege to vote for individuals that will be in the greatest country in the world.
    Keep up the good work, I will expect to see tomato's growing on that rig you are building. Take care
    and enjoy your life.

  2. The projects never seem to end, they do slow down but I usually find something else to do. As for voting, we can vote, but when we received our ballot it had all of 2 judges, nothing else. So we did not send it in, only to find out the governor was also being voted for. So we are not sure what happened with our ballot and choices. It is kind of a pain to vote here because we have to print it and mail it back and the mail system does not work so well here. I will say, our tomatoes were a failure, so we just buy those, but we do have a lot of other goodies growing.


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