Saturday, March 19, 2016

Waiting For The Sun

We met our new neighbor a couple of days ago - a magnificently massive boa constrictor.  No idea how long it has been hanging around, but it is certainly well-fed, judging by its size.  It has been waiting for the sun (click here for oddly appropriate music) each day this week to show itself in its brush-pile lodging at the edge of our property.

This morning's sunrise promised us a hot day.
Ten minutes before sunrise.  The air still has the night's coolness - if you call 70F cool.
When the sun rises up through the morning haze like this, the day is guaranteed to be a hot one.
Eighteen minutes after sunrise.  We start work early here to avoid the heat.  Tiger is off-loading our plumbing supplies.  Already 75F when I took this shot.
The weather forecast predicts a high of 98F(36C) today (it is 95F at noon as I write this).
You can almost see the heat at 8:00AM.
By 9:00, the boa's wait is over.  I took these photos today and day before yesterday.  It is so huge that I still haven't seen the whole thing all at once.
Not all the way in the sun yet.  Its head is double-backed to the left of center.
Standing next to it and comparing it to my thigh, I estimate that it is about 18-20 inches in circumference at the widest part I could see.
Here you can see its head resting on its body.
 Although I would love to see its full length, we didn't want to disturb it.
Beautiful markings.
It must have shed recently because it was so shiny and fresh looking.
Look at the gorgeous iridescence of its scales.
 Waiting for the sun.
Its head is larger than my fist.
 Waiting for you . . to come along.
Sparkling eye.
An impressive animal.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Let's Build a Stairway to the Stars

We may not make it to the stars, but the loft will do.  Click here to listen to "Stairway to the Stars" with Ella for your listening pleasure as you read.

Before the stairs, though, we had to finish the floor.  Another lovely dawn greets us with fine weather to continue the work on the floor.
Brown pelicans skim over the flat water.  The day promises to be clear and calm - perfect for finishing a floor.
It took 2 finish coats with light sanding in between applications to get the satiny sheen we wanted.
First coat on the left. Second coat on the right.  The baseboard sets it off nicely.  Still need the finish coat on the baseboard.
The 8x8 inch Santa Maria posts and central beam have been nicely finished, too.
The post is silky smooth to touch and has a beautiful sheen.
The fine weather also brought this amazing insect to our veranda - a bottle brush weevil.  This weevil lays its eggs in dead palm trees.  It has relatives that lay their eggs in live palms and doing so spreads a lethal, to palms, bacterial disease that has had a major impact in Belize.  
The body plus snout measured a little more than 3 inches.
About 8 years ago we had to cull 5 or 6 nice big green coconut palms because they were showing signs of infection.  We were able to keep 3 of the susceptible green palms by staying vigilant and limiting the number of green palms on our property. In the meantime we planted bucket loads of dwarf yellow palms, which are resistant to the bacterial disease.  It seems that the bacterial disease is no longer in this area, so we have started sprouting more of the green coconut palms.  We will watch them closely for signs of disease.  The yellow coconuts have the best coconut water for drinking and green coconuts have the best flesh for eating and for making coconut oil.

After the insect interlude, we were ready to get back to the construction of the stairs. The carpenter and his crew took detailed measurements so that they could construct much of the stair components in the shop.  They brought down the various pieces nicely shrink wrapped to protect against scratches and weather during the trip.
Unpacking the components on the veranda.  The screened veranda is a great staging place.
The big pieces are the landing for the turn and the two wedge-shaped steps  that make the turn.
Getting the stringer into place.  The landing and turn steps are already in place.
Both stringers and the tread are up.  
The outlets and plumbing stubs are for the kitchenette that will be under the staircase.  The bathroom shower is on the other side of the wall, keeping the plumbing all together.
You can see how the stringers rest on the landing platform.
Now to add the second part from the landing to the main floor.  The steps are skewed toward the right so that they are parallel to the wall of this hexagonal room.
It takes 16 steps to go up 10 feet.
A small miscalculation means that the stringers for the lower part of the stairs will have to redone.   
Side view of the lower stringers and steps.
Ooops - you can probably tell in the photo above that the overhang of the treads is too great, effectively making the depth of each step too small to comfortably put your foot on when coming down the stairs.  Going up is not so much of a problem.  So it is back to the shop for the carpenters.  They will come back with new materials for the stringers and also the stair rails.  
A new day.
Monday is a holiday, so Tuesday will be the day they return to continue work on the stairs.