Jan 31, 2010

January gone...

Somehow the month slipped away with no more posting. A lot going on, some relaxing, some fun, but I’ll start with a work report.
Have now built all our kitchen cabinets, adding three more over the stove. They each have recessed lighting under their lower lips.
And I built drawers, two banks of drawers, one on each side of the sink. This was the first time I had ever done drawers. Had to learn how they all went together. Only three of the seven drawers are cutlery-sized, the other four are quite large, so I went with heavy duty all-metal sliders. And I learned how they had to be built within tight tolerances for the slides to work -- like within a 1/16 of an inch side to side.  With a lot of measuring, and a little shimming, they work!
We're not done yet, as we haven’t designed / chosen / built or ordered to be built the cabinet doors and drawer fronts. We have spoken to a local cabinet maker (Marcos, the guy who last year built and installed our doors). I’m sure he would give it a dandy final look, but somehow I am reluctant to give up, having brought the project this far myself.

Jan 18, 2010

But no parkas...

For our recent visitors, my sister and her husband from Alberta, the weather was just right. They were more afraid of it being TOO hot. So the sub-60F (15C) mornings were fine for them. They are not drawn into the water either, though we did find one lovely afternoon for a stroll and a brief dip into the sea along Yan Ten.  And it was good weather for sight-seeing without getting wilted.
Even on 5th Ave, most people were in jackets.
They chose two major outings - a day at Xcaret, and a bus tour to Chichen Itza.
Xcaret is just a couple kilometers from Paamul, so we dropped them off and they took a taxi home. They loved it, lots to see, lots to read about, lots to eat ( they indulged a bit at the buffet, and while they are small eaters, they sampled almost everything). The highlight for them, as it was for us last year, was the evening show. It is a two hour musical extravaganza with a cast of hundreds depicting the whole history of the country and its culture.
The bus tour to Chichen Itza worked out well too. I dropped them off at a pickup point in Playacar at 8:20 and they rode in a big comfortable bus. The price included an entertaining commentary along the ride, a stop for a buffet lunch, with some dance entertainment, guided tour of the famous Mayan ruin, and a stop at a cenote on the way back. Return to Playa was about 7:30.
Just in time for a late dinner at one of our favorite Mexican eateries, El Fogon.

Winter, here too...

In the two weeks since I wrote about perfect weather, the cold that has been drifting down the Atlantic coast reached us and settled in for a spell. We were in long pants and sweaters for days on end. When the sun was out, we went for walks, or moved our chairs out into the yard and absorbed the rays.
It was reassuring some to know that we were not alone in this, that we were not singled out for this chill.
From last week’s news:
“...travelers emerging from Miami airport were hit with 2.2C temperatures, beating an 82-year-old record on the 10th consecutive day of startling lows in South Florida.”
And in other parts of Mexico -
“The state-run National Meteorology Service (SMN) has forecast that temperatures would be as low as minus 8 degrees Celsius in the northern states of Durango and Chihuahua....Freezing weather has killed at least 22 people across the nation since last week, including deaths caused by hypothermia and gas poisoning.”

Jan 4, 2010

Have some madera... (my dear)

I am building more cabinets, and thought I would add some more detail of our local supply of wood/ lumber (in Spanish: MADERA).

There are at least a half dozen lumber marts in Playa. Each one has a variety of dimension lumber and plywood -- each with slightly different variety and qualities. I think the prices are comparable to those up north. Following are some examples:  (I’ve converted to Canadian dollars, for US discount another 5%)
Dimension lumber: Mexican lumber seem amazing for their quality and variety. I remember looking through piles of lumber in Canadian lumber stores to find anything that was straight and not full of knots.
In these madera stores, the main lumber supply is pino (Mexican pine). Their “prime” quality in very clear, with very few if any knots.
The boards start out coarsely cut to full dimension. ie, a 1x6 is fully 1” x 6”. They are then run through two planers -- the first to straighten any irregularities along the edges, then through a planer to smooth the flat sides. Then, if you buy a board, they will run it through a table saw to any width or variety of widths. Today, I bought a 1x6, and had it cut down to 4 narrow pieces, of different widths - more trim pieces for more cabinets. All the planing and cutting is included in the price of the lumber.
These prime dimension lumber boards seem to all come about 8 1/4 feet. 1x6 $4.75; 1x10 $7.20; 2x4 $5.20; 2x6 $9.60.

Plywood: There are at least as many choices in plywood with construction grades and fine finishes as I remember from our Canadian lumber stores.
(plywood comes in 4’ x 8’ but are in mm thicknesses just like Canada)  These are good G1S sanded paint grade.
6mm $14.80; 12mm $22.40; 15mm $25.15; 18mm $32.80

Did you want to know all this?
Some wood I guess. Others woodn’t.

Jan 3, 2010

Some like it Hot.

What makes perfect winter weather? This past week and the beginning of this new year the days and nights have been great. The days drift into the low 80’s (27+C) and the nights dip into the high 60’s (20C). We have been sleeping in the loft and with a light breeze, it is like sleeping on a cloud. This morning it was 68F and it felt cool. I remember when 68 / 20C was promoted as an ideal room temp. Not warm enough for me.
Yeah, temperature is quite subjective, but very real.
I grew up on a small farm on the Canadian prairies. Up to my teenage years, in the winter we got to town with horses. Even when snowplows cleared the roads, and block heaters helped get the cars running, winter existence was dealing with the cold. Though I came from hardy nordic stock on both sides of my family, I have often wondered what happened to me. I have never liked the cold.
A couple of years ago, I was speculating with Susan about our future and how we might find somewhere nice to settle, like in a winterized cabin on a lake in Southern Ontario. Near enough to a town for our essentials, etc. Susan’s response was clear. “I’m not living through winter in Canada.” Perfect answer. Now we live the winters in Mexico, how great.