Monday, August 31, 2009

Fun in the Sun

Although the pictures and progress reports from the construction site have few and far in between, the work continues. With just a few workers on site, the plastering of the interior and exterior walls has taken longer than usual, but since we're not moving in soon, I guess it doesn't really matter.

But here at home, the work continues. I've managed to finish the guest bathroom, laundry room and most of the master bathroom and the walk-in closet here at home in Camarillo. The only thing left to complete is the bathtub and tiling in the master bathroom and I can't start on that until all of our house guests are gone. That should only be a few weeks more.

The guest bathroom - before

The guest bathroom - after

The master bathroom - before

The master bathroom - after

Sunday was a beautiful day here so I decided not to work today, go out and have a little fun in the sun and headed down to our local airport to do a little flying. I made arrangements with Mike, the instructor at SkyRider ultralights (, to do a short 15-20 minute flight around the farmlands that surround the airport. It was a perfect day for flying with just a gentle breeze and warm air, so that jackets wouldn't be needed. While I was waiting for Mike to show up at the airport, I met some other people that were also planning on spending their day doing an introductory flight, so we all sat and waited.

Donna and David were from the small town of Santa Paula, 15 or so miles from Camarillo, where they run the Santa Paula Inn (, not too far from the Santa Paula airport. The Santa Paula airport is well known in the flying community and has many custom planes flying out from there. It also has one of the top aerobatic schools in the world. Unfortunately, they do not have an ultralight airport there, even though it would probably be a perfect place for one. So Donna, David and their friend Mark all came out to the Camarillo airport to try their first rides in an ultralight aircraft. Both Donna and Mark had previous flying experience, but none of it was anything close to an ultralight. But they were all up for the adventure.

This is what we would be flying in today.

Flight instructor, Mike and Donna ready for flight.

David and Jeffrey doing a little practice at taxiing up and down the runway.

Mike and Mark after Mr. Toads Wild Ride.

All in all, it was a great day. A good time was had by all. We came back in one piece and I think we're all ready to go again. I put together a short video of my flying adventure that I hope you enjoy. It gives you a small idea of the freedom that these ultralights give you while flying. This is a dream of mine to get an ultralight for our home in Belize. There are currently around three or four of them in the Corozal area and one of the owners even has a private airport. That will be another thing for me to explore when I return in November.

Friday, August 21, 2009

It's Starting to Look Like Home

Finally after a couple of weeks of no news on the construction front, I have received a new set of pictures. I guess there's not a lot to photograph when you're plastering, but it does show progress. It looks as though most of the outside of the house has been plastered with at least one coat and the inside is not far behind.

Front door and northwest side of the house.

West side of the house.

East side of house

Inside facing north to kitchen and front entryway.

Inside the west bedroom looking southwest.

Looking south out of the west bedroom door and windows.

With all of the plastering just about finished, it really is starting to look like the finished home I had originally designed. With me having no real design experience or architectural background, I was a little bit apprehensive about how it would all turn out. On paper it looked good. The mock up looked good. But would the design itself work, and did I allow the proper amount of space for all the fixtures and appliances. When I was first laying out the house on the lot using masons' lines, the house appeared small and the inside even smaller. Was I leaving enough room for the hallways and stairs? How tight were the bathrooms going to be? I knew the bedrooms would be big, but did the design account for airflow? All of these were unknowns until the house went up and by then, it would be to late to change my mind. But so far, the home is exactly as I had pictured it in my mind. The views from all the rooms is spectacular and the patio will be much larger than I had originally designed, due to a larger cistern underneath. We didn't plan on installing the pool until a later date, but with the layout and retaining wall, it was best to install it now as opposed to later when it would have to be hand dug and piped. I think that was a good idea in the long run. It's extra money that we didn't plan on spending at this time but I'm sure we will be using it a lot, even though we have the ocean right in front of us. The ocean isn't always an option for a swim depending on the wind and waves. I am looking forward to my return in November to complete the interior design and to start on the landscaping. It will be here before I know it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Quiet Month for Construction News

Now that the major portion of the home construction is finished, with just the plastering left to do for now, the pictures and news from the construction site have dwindled to a trickle. I had some friends I've met through the blog go down to Belize recently, but I have yet to hear about their trips and adventures. Others will be going down shortly, so I'm sure the news will begin to flow and I will have more to post.

Our next door neighbors, Pip and Jason, have sold their house in Canada and Pip is planning a trip to Belize later this week to find tile and cabinets for their new home in the Shores. I'm sure Pip will take lots of pictures. This will be her first time seeing their new house, since Jason was the one who stayed for several weeks in March and April during the initial construction. I am looking forward to talking to her when she is down there and can get a birds-eye view of all the construction on their place and ours. We can also start to discuss options for restoring the fauna and grasses to the area around both our homes that has been damaged due to the construction.

I have contacted George Greenwood, of Taribo Industries, LTD., to see about providing black dirt for the area in front of the retaining wall and for the area surrounding the pool. He has determined that each section will require about two truck loads each (70-80 cubic yards total) and will cost in the range of $350-$400BZ for each load delivered to Consejo Shores. I have heard that there are a couple of types of black dirt available, so I will need to find out which is best for my intended application. I will also need to decide which type of driveway we would like to have. Crushed limestone, concrete or maybe even pavers.

The last month or so around here at home has been quite hectic. We've got Mischelle's mom, Fay, staying with us for the summer. Her sister, Marie, from Yuma, Arizona, had just recently lost her husband and was also staying with us during the funeral arrangements and also for a family reunion that was happening the following weekend. During that time, our neice Josette and her friend Lexy also were staying with us so they could also attend the family reunion and Lexy wanted to check out a couple of colleges here in SoCal.

The Gentile family reunion is an annual bash held at cousin Phil's ranch in Chino Hills, California. It is not unusual to see at least 5 generations of family represented at these day long bashes. It is a working cattle and horse ranch with all of the bar-b-que grillin's directly from the ranch. Lamb, steak, goat and lots of it. It's an Italian family gathering so there's lots and lots of great food and drink. Horses for the kids to ride, horseshoe pit for the adults to congregate and socialize. And not too hot this year.

It is amazing to see all the kids change from the previous years. The younger kids growing up, the new additions to the family. This year was the largest gathering yet with probably 60-70 family and friends. These really are special times to remember.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Let the Plastering Begin

With the walls up and the roof poured, now begins the job of plastering the house, both inside and out. The work on the house will stop for a while after the plastering is complete, sometime around the end of August. It's time to organize the finances and get ready for the final push to complete the house at the end of the year so we can move in by the first quarter of next year.

It seems that August has been a good month for travel and a few people I've met through the blog are going down to Belize or southern Mexico on vacation. I'm looking forward to hearing about their travels and to get first hand information on the construction from those who are going out to Consejo. With round trip air fares of $147 out of Houston to Belize, I have thought about going down there myself. But I just can't seem to justify the extra expense, so I will just have to rely on my contractor and friends to keep me updated.