Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dry wall

This week we had the first coat of stucco applied to the house, the dry wall is going up fast and we picked out the baseboard, window and door casings and crown molding. A lot of time was eaten up picking out tiles and we found one for accents that we particularly like made out of re-cycled beer bottles. The tile is a beautiful goldish orange color and once you know it's beer bottles - the visual clicks into place. We also finished our exterior inspection which meant we could go ahead with dry wall. One tile setter has come up to give us a bid.

Watching the three guys hoisting up the 12 foot dry wall sheets for the ceiling is thrilling. They organize three ladders and each position themselves under a third. They climb up together and yell "turn", then they flip the sheet over so they can nail it to the ceiling.

We've come through three weeks of perfect weather. Warm sunny days, clear air. Rain started to fall on Thursday and the heat
spell is likely broken.

We're thinking about adding beams to our turret ceiling.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Our first cruise together was from Santiago to Rio on a Princess Cruise lines boat. 15 days in duration, it was too long for us and
we found ourselves a little cranky and beset with cabin fever after about 10 days. We did love sailing through the Straits of Magellan and the Beagle Channel and rounding Cape Horn. The glaciers were beautiful and it was thrilling to sit up in the highest lounge and feel ourselves slipping smoothly through the icy water. Of the ports en route, Ushuaia and Montevideo were the most interesting. Stanley on the Falkland Islands was a real dud unless you took a penguin expedition which really didn't interest us too much. 2400 passengers unleashed on a town with 2000 citizens is just too much.

We did like Santiago very much and are now interested in visiting more of Chile. Also Rio was wonderful with our guide Rafi who made the visit most interesting. He took us around to different neighborhoods in Rio, to the park, the lesser known beaches and to his home town of Niteroi , where we enjoyed the most gorgeous views looking back at Sugarloaf and the Cristo. Flying home on Christmas morning was great - flights were surprisingly full but the airports were empty and easy to navigate.

On board the ship we did meet a few interesting people. One was a physician from Napa, Italian born and educated who told us he worked for the movie studios as a financially strapped young medical student. He had the chance to make extra money as an extra on Quo Vadis by jumping from a bridge with his shirt on fire. Even though he was burning up he did not pass up the chance to look behind him as Gina Lollabrigida followed behind him reputedly wearing no panties. His wife obviously bored at hearing this story thousands of times, leaned over to me and whispered that after 30 years together and renting the movie many times, she'd never been able to stay awake long enough to see his "big" scene.

I met a man who was in the business of showing movies outdoors - like beaches and public parks. We met a woman who had assisted a physician do a tracheotomy with a ball point pen. Most of the people however were old hat cruisers and they shared a mentality that we didn't feel part of. Conversations invariably began with the question about how many cruises you'd been on. There was a wide range of ages on the boat but most were in 50's and up. There were about 5 children which most people were grateful for explaining that kids can be a huge nuisance on a boat, riding up the elevators constantly, running around in the dining rooms - generally a noisy, boisterous nuisance. Not so on this trip.

An Irish couple told me about a cruise in the same part of the world that they had taken a few years ago. When they came into the harbor at Montevideo, their captain drove through a bow line, overturning a freighter loaded with cars. The freighter sank in a couple of minutes and the harbor was closed for three days. All hell broke loose as people were missing trains, planes, important events. The Irish couple was already highly upgraded and just enjoyed being even further treated kindly by the cruise line. The captain was taken away almost in irons and the company had hell to pay to the passengers. Because of the delay and the increasingly bad weather (this was the last cruise of the season), they couldn't land in Stanley. One family had taken the cruise primarily so they could go to Stanley and pay their respects at their son's grave - he was a British soldier who died in the war with Argentina.

Our cruise was several hours late arriving in Rio. The Brazilian government took the opportunity to be uncooperative about finding a berth. We disembarked hours late after standing in line for hours. 2000 people were waiting to get on and 2000 people waiting to get off. Chaos ruled. We finally got a cab to our hotel and away from the mess at the port.