146. A Beautiful Reunion

Reunion Dance GIF from Reunion GIFs Saturday 2/3- Many of you who know me know that once upon a time I was in the military. During a deployment to Iraq nearly 17 years ago (Ugh, I really feel old after saying that!) I got close to 2 battle buddies who I hope will be in my life forever. We were all young girls from MN in a military field where very few women end up and we formed a tight while trying to keep each other as sane as possible during a tough 18 months far, far from home. After the deployment we all ended up back in MN, but only saw each other about once a year. Despite not seeing each other very often, when we do get together it’s like no time has passed and we can step right back into our friendships without any problems. The last time I saw these gals was shortly before we moved down here, and ever since then we always talked about when they would come visit us. That was finally happening! We have been working on planning this for a while, and today was my & Ramie’s d

128. Is That An Upgrade?

Saturday 7/29- We all look forward to a day that we get to sleep in, right? But, when you have puppies (or kids) sometimes that doesn’t really happen anymore. Skye is like a little alarm clock and you better believe we are trying to break her of that habit! Even though we were up late last night, she was awake bright and early and we could hear her whimpering at about 4am. We let her outside to go potty, and then figured we’d try our luck to see if she’d go back to bed for a little while, so we put her back in the kennel. Fortunately she must have still been tired because we got another hour of sleep after that!

A little bit later in the morning Ramie and I had to leave the house for a little while to go see Benny the chiropractor. Skye hasn’t been doing great in her kennel during her kennel time lately but we haven’t left her alone at home in a while either so this morning we would test it out. We were only gone for less than an hour, but when we got back we couldn’t hear her barking or crying before we got into the house (that’s a good sign!). When we did go to let her out of her kennel, though, we discovered that she figured out that she could chew on the wood that her little dog house cubby was made out of. That isn’t ideal, but maybe it would calm her down enough that this whole kennel thing would work out in the end. 

It has now officially been 1 month since Skye came home with us. It’s amazing how much can change with a puppy this age in only 1 month. She is getting smarter as we work with her and she’s also growing like a weed. She seems to like napping in this particular spot under the Adirondack chair, so I thought it would be easy to get “comparison” pictures to see how much bigger she is now than she was then, but as it turns out, the two pictures below were taken a month apart and you can't even tell the difference in the picture. In person, though, it's clear that she’s growing, and it probably won't be too long before she's going to outgrow this hiding place!

When we got her

1 month later

The Official Casa Costa Breeze end of July rainfall total was 13.4 inches

Work was continuing to be quite stressful for me this entire week, and when I was done for the day all I wanted to do was enjoy some cuddle time with the pup. While I was tied to my computer, Ramie was overseeing the construction of our new wall. Since none of you really want to hear about my stressful work week, I’ll let Ramie tell you about the events of his week.

Monday 7/31- When I was working with the owner of this crew last week, getting things scheduled and organized, he told me that they wanted to start work at 6am, which is fairly typical around here. This morning the crew was waiting at our gate at about 5:50. Let me tell you, that is not typical at all! There is a reason they use the phrase “Tico Time” here, and yes, it's just like Island time for those of you who have heard that expression about the islands in the Caribbean.

Basically it means schedules are just rough guidelines, things will happen when they happen, and there’s typically no big rush on most things. I guess this crew works on Gringo time!!

Once I let them in, the crew wasted no time and their first step was to remove our old “fence” which consisted of green saran (fabric) stretched between metal fence posts that stood about 6 feet high.

The fence to be removed

That didn’t take very long and once it was down they pulled a string from one corner post of our property to the other so they had a visual of where the property line is exactly. Since I already had an issue with having plants on the neighbor’s property, I wanted to make sure that the wall was directly on the property line (which is legal and actually quite normal here in Costa Rica). Once the string was up they found that our cunetta (drainage ditch) along the back of the property was not installed straight and actually crossed over the property line as well. It turns out that they would have to remove the whole thing and will reinstall it after the wall is built. Once all of those sections were dug out, it was time to get started on the actual wall itself. 

Izzy was here visiting today and was inspecting the work

We are installing a Prefab wall which consists of grooved posts and cement panels that slide into those groves, the whole setup is similar to tongue and groove flooring. We decided on this type of construction because it's quicker to build and less expensive than some of the other options. They got a good start on installing the posts and some of the panels today but unfortunately, got rained out at about 1pm.

Tuesday 8/1- The crew was waiting at the gate before 6am once again, and I’ll say that I'm super impressed by that! Today they continued setting the rest of the posts and installing the remaining panels. After seeing how quickly they finished up with that part today, I think they would have been really close to having the wall completely in place yesterday if it weren't for the rain. They had the complete wall up and in place by about noon. I spent some time watching how this whole thing came together once the posts and panels were set up and saw that they really had a good system in place to work efficiently.

OSHA would not approve of the ladders here but they never seem to get hurt
The top of each post had a piece of rebar embedded in it which would be welded to a piece of metal which is a top cap the length of the wall and the purpose of which is to hold the whole thing tightly together. One guy was cutting the steel for the top cap, another was welding it to the posts, and the rest of the crew was either working on applying the finish layer (similar idea of mudding a sheetrock wall) or re-installing the cunetta that could now go back in. 

Applying the smooth finish layer
Skye was very interested in what they were doing but was too scared to get close

When the boss showed up at the end of the day to look at the progress he called me over and to tell me that he didn't like the way that the finish layer turned out, it's too rough and will end up taking too much paint to cover. He told me that he would bring a different material tomorrow and have the guys go over what they already did to make it look the way it should. He made sure to let me know that it wouldn’t cost us any more to fix it and that it shouldn’t delay the progress or the anticipated finish date. 

The wall at the end of day 2

The lower section before the finish layer

I was doubtful at first when he told me that they could build our wall in 4 days, but with the progress they made in the past two days it certainly looks like it will be done on time!

Wednesday 8/2-
Today was my regularly scheduled Wednesday turtle walk so I was up at 4:30 this morning to head to the beach. Today my friend Ray will be joining us, it will be his first walk and with the luck we’ve been having recently there is a good chance that we will find some more nests today. Once we got going it didn't take long and we spotted our first turtle track and he was pretty excited about it! Since it was his first time, I assisted Ray with the process of finding and digging the nest, gathering the eggs and recording the data. 

When we had all of that taken care of we continued on. About mid-way through the walk we came across another one, but this time I took care of it. At the far end of the beach we found our 3rd nest of the morning. I let Ray have the honors again and David, my regular walk partner, finished the last section of the beach and made it back to us just as we finished packing up. This was an excellent first walk for Ray, Congrats buddy!

I got home a little after 7 and the crew was hard at work. I like these guys! Three of the guys were working on applying the smoother finish layer and the other two were working on installing the rest of the cunetta and concreting it all in place. I checked their progress again mid-morning to see the difference in the finish layer and it was very noticeable. I'm glad the boss made this change! Since today would be the last day the whole crew would be here I decided to make my famous coffee cake, (well, famous says me) as a thank-you treat. At lunch time they all were sitting in the shade on our lower property and I brought it down for them and they all really seemed to enjoy it. By the end of the day the entire wall had its smooth finish layer applied and the steel had been primed and was ready for paint. The jefe (boss) showed up again at the end of the day to look it over, and today he was pleased with how it had turned out. He told me that he will send two guys in the morning to paint the wall. I had to pick up the paint and have that here for them. While the guys were cleaning and packing up all their materials and tools I offered a piece of my delicious coffee cake to the boss. He took a bite as he was walking away and I heard a “Mmmm”. I guess he liked it! 

Ready for paint
Dana and I have talked about what color we were going to choose for the wall and were having a hard time deciding. We didn't want a white wall since those show too much dirt. We originally planned on having a hedge to be the “wall” and liked the idea of it blending into the nature & jungle background, so we ended up deciding to go with a green. Well, there are a million different shades of green, how do you narrow it down? Dana mentioned that the color of the saran “fence” we had up before wasn’t so bad, so I took a clipping of that and went to the paint store to see what they could mix up for us.

Later that evening I received a text message from the boss thanking me for the pancake and telling me how much he liked it. I started laughing and Dana asked what was so funny so I read his message to her. I figured it would probably be nice of me to try to explain to him that it was a cake and the difference between cake and pancake. Oh the joys of translations! This is why it’s so hard to learn a foreign language!

Thursday 8/3- Today’s morning was planned to not be quite so early, today they were going to come over at 7 to start painting. I went out to my bodega and got the supplies out for the guys. As I was standing barefoot in the rocks I was thinking to myself  "dang this is a sharp rock" but I didn't move and just continued to get the supplies out. Then the pain started increasing and it felt like the bottom of my foot was on fire. My first thought was "Am I standing on a scorpion?!" I lifted my foot to look but didn't see anything at first. Then I saw it and it turned out to actually be much worse than a scorpion. I was standing on a saddle-back caterpillar. 

It is beautiful, but has one heck of a painful sting!


All I could do was walk it off and wait for the pain to subside. About 15 minutes later the two workers were right on time I was still walking funny while getting them the supplies. I would say the pain lasted about an hour and a half, it probably would have been less time but I was stubborn and didn't move my foot right away. Oh well lesson learned. Or was it?  Will I wear shoes in the yard from now on? Probably not. 

Anyway, the guys got going on the painting right away.

A while later the boss showed up just as they were starting to paint the wall and the first comment to come out of his mouth was “WOW!” Yeah, I guess that is kind of a bright green! Dana and I had seen the color as they started putting it on but before the boss got there, we had already made the decision that since we had the paint we might as well just continue with the color. With time it’ll fade, right? When the boss saw the color he called me over to make sure it was ok and I told him that we had already talked about it and that they should go ahead and continue. He had a look on his face like he didn’t quite believe we were going to have him keep going and then talked with his guys, presumably telling them to keep painting. They had the same look as the boss, but in the end of course it was our decision. Yeah, it was that bright that we had three guys giving us a “look”! I just told him we can always paint over it if we really end up hating it after a while. As it dried it did get darker, but this color might take a little bit of getting used to. Dana thinks it goes nicely with our bright blue wall… jungle & sky!

Another Thursday spent at home meant that Dana had some time to take care of projects, and I had a project for her. The old backpack that I use to carry my supplies and eggs for my turtle walks ended up with a broken zipper this week. Since Dana has become a pro at sewing, I asked her if she would be able to replace the zipper since we had plenty of leftovers from when we made our cushions and dog bed last year. Of course, she agreed to fix it since she didn’t want me using one of our good travel backpacks to go to the beach and get full of sand. This ended up being a more difficult process than either one of us expected and it became a team effort! Even though Dana knows how to sew on zippers, it becomes much more of a challenge when you are trying to put it onto an object that is already sewn together and bulky and oddly shaped. Dana “drove” the sewing machine and I helped hold and move the backpack as she was trying to keep everything in place and the needle going where it needed to go. It took a while, but we managed to get it finished, not as perfectly as it was when it was new, but enough to function. We were also able to reinforce a few other areas that looked like they could give out any day now. I have another walk tomorrow morning, so I’ll get to test it out and see how her work holds up. 

Dana’s rating for this DIY project: ZERO stars, do not recommend!! ☆☆☆☆☆

Back to the wall progress: Originally when I was working with the boss of the project he told me that they would only need 2 gallons of paint, one of white and one of the green that we had chosen. The first coat of paint was the white, and it was just to make the wall uniform in color. It didn’t take long to notice that 1 gallon of the green paint was NOT going to cover a concrete fence that is 8 feet high and 69 feet long. The guys let me know that they needed another gallon, so I ran to town to pick one up so they could keep going. A couple more hours went by and they once again came back and said they were running out and would need a third gallon of the green. What choice did I have but to go and get the third one, I mean, I wasn’t going to leave the rest of the wall unpainted!!

They ended up finishing the wall around 3:00 today, fortunately they didn’t get rained out! It was a hot afternoon so when they finished I decided to bring them a beer for their hard work. The younger guy looked at the older one with a questioning look like “is this ok?” and the older guy took the offered beer indicating that it wouldn’t be a problem. They enjoyed the beer for all of what seemed like 30 seconds before they got back to work cleaning everything up and then took off. Job complete!! It is kind of amazing to me that the wall was finished in 4 days just like I was originally told, even with the extra work of having to remove & reinstall the cunetta. I like this team, I’d hire them again! 

The jungle and sky can be seen on the far left of this picture.
All done!

Now that the work is done we can already tell that the traffic noise from the highway is less. We can still hear the super annoying semis that love to use their jake-brakes for what seems like 10 minutes on a completely flat highway and some of the more annoying motorcycles that go by, but overall I do think it’s better than it was before. Even though we always said that we didn't want to live behind a concrete wall, this might not have been such a bad idea. Plus, this taller concrete wall may provide a little bit more “security” for us right now since our thorny hedges hadn’t had a chance to fully grow before we were told we had to remove it.

Friday 8/5- Today was another early morning for me, I was up at 3:30 to head to the beach for a walk at 4:00. I guess this time of morning isn’t so terrible, sometimes it’s really hard to get up at midnight to do one of those walks, at least these morning ones will be partially in the daylight. We had another successful day and found a couple of nests, however unfortunately the newly repaired backpack failed again. 

The tracks of one of the nests

Yes, the zipper broke, but it had nothing to do with Dana’s sewing. This time, the teeth of the zipper actually broke apart, I guess the zipper just wasn’t strong enough for the weight of the eggs and sand that I had to carry. Back to the drawing board if we want to save this backpack!

Today was a typical workday for Dana so after I got home from the turtle walk I spent the day working with Skye on her commands and tried doing some kennel time again. We didn't put her in her kennel this past week while the crew was working here because there was just too much noise and too much going on that would have distracted her and she really wouldn’t have done well or stopped crying. I wouldn’t say that kennel time today was successful, but every little bit keeps working toward the end goal.

Saturday 8/5- Dana has returned to finish off this blog post. 

A day off for me can mean lots of different things… Today it meant that I'm going to try to repair Ramie’s turtle walk backpack again. You’re probably wondering why we just don't go buy another one instead of screwing around with such a pain in the butt project. Unfortunately, here it's just not that simple! It’s weird, but backpacks (at least good quality ones that will hold up to the sand, salt air, and weight of the turtle nests) are hard to find and crazy expensive when you can find one. Besides, it doesn’t make sense to go buy a brand-new backpack that will just get abused anyway. That seems like a complete waste! Ramie has been trying to come up with another idea on how to make this backpack work for his purpose and came up with something that just might work! We have one of those seat protectors that you put in your vehicle for dogs to sit on so they don’t wreck your seats and don’t fall on the floor when you’re driving that was torn and we have just been using it as a protective mat in the cargo area of the truck. This thing has those big plastic clips on it that held it on to the headrests, but using it as we were, we didn’t need those clips anymore, so Ramie thought he might be able to use those clips to help solve his backpack problem. He cut them off, removed the zipper that we just sewed into the backpack, and then called me over to help figure out how we’d make this work.

Since he doesn't really need the backpack to close all the way like it does with a zipper, he really only needs the front flap to stay up to hold the bag or bucket of eggs from falling out, which will be at the bottom of the pack anyways, the gaps in the top won’t cause a problem. The flap just needs to stay up enough that the eggs (and his other supplies) won’t spill out. We played around with trial and error, pinning these clips on to different places to see what placement would work best, and after we figured out what seemed to work, I sewed them on. 

Skye not so sure of our sewing projects, she has her doubts

This was MUCH easier than sewing on that zipper a few days ago, why didn’t we come up with this first?! It doesn't look too pretty but he assured me it will work for his needs. They have been on a hot streak of finding nests lately, and I guess August is the peak of turtle mating season, so there will be many more nests to come that he’ll have to carry, he definitely needs this pack to work.

After we finished up with this very important task, Ramie got to work in the yard, and I did some chores around the house and caught up on all the things you seem to neglect when you are just overly busy with everything else. I couldn’t let one of my precious days off end without making some time to relax and enjoy some pool time, so I was sure to fit that in before I had to make dinner too. 

 Pura Vida!