Posts Tagged ‘terrace’

Warm weather, clear skies, and shadows on the rooftop…


Ahhh… evening terrace tranquility.

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Once upon a time, I went to Linda Hanna’s house in San Andrés Huayapam — the B&B Casa Linda.  In addition to running a B&B, she leads artisan tours, is a major collector of textiles, art, crafts, and you name it, AND holds occasional yard sales.  I always try to attend the latter and always buy a thing or two or three or four.  Thus, 2-1/2 years ago, this loveseat found it’s way onto the terrace of Casita Colibrí.  Linda wasn’t sure where or when she originally purchased it and it had long been relegated to a bed for a member of her animal menagerie, as the palm had completely disintegrated on one side, leaving only the jute webbing to prevent one’s bottom from landing on the ground.  However, it had “good bones” and I had fallen in love with it.  I figured that with a couple of decorative pillows to hide the hole, it would look great and be relatively functional.  They did and it was.


Over the course of the past couple of years, the elements have caused more wear and tear to the palm and the wooden frame needed work.  Into the story comes Sebastián, of Talavera transformation, part 4 fame.  As if it wasn’t enough to be a carpenter, stonemason, electrician, plumber, and glazier, he and his wife Elizabeth had taken classes in weaving with plastic and started a business — primarily making baskets/purses.  A couple of months ago, he stopped by to show me their latest projects and I had an inspiration.  Could they refurbish my loveseat?  His eyes lit up, said yes, we talked colors and designs, and a few weeks later he hauled it away.  On Wednesday, it came back home.

I suspect you are asking, why plastic when the palm looked so beautiful?  Two reasons.  Firstly, it was a spur of the moment decision, but I knew Sebastián, trusted the work he does, and loved the creative possibilities he showed me.  Secondly, I’d bought the loveseat to live outside on the terrace (albeit, under the gazebo) and in the back of my mind, as the palm seat, back, and arms continued to deteriorate, I’d wondered if there might be something more long lasting that could be used.  Thus, plastic.  However, it’s not just any plastic, Sebastián and Elizabeth’s business uses recycled plastic.


By the way, they also refinished the wood, using a marine varnish to help contribute to its longevity.   I think, in its new incarnation, my loveseat still looks right at home and what is old is new again!

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While scientists were in the process of identifying four new species of agave, an agave on my terrace…


June 28, 2017

… had a surprise of its own.


July 23, 2017

Seemingly overnight, from its center, a stalk (aka, quiote) began reaching toward the sky.


July 23, 2017

After awhile, buds began appearing along the sides of the stalk.

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September 18, 2017

And from the buds, the rainy season brought blossoms.


September 27, 2017

The flowers opened from bottom to top.


October 21, 2017

Eventually, all the flowers browned and seed pods began forming.


November 19, 2017

Who knows what I will find when I return to Casita Colibrí next week.  What I do know is that this agave is now dying — but there are plantlets waiting to replace it!  By the way, quiotes have traditionally been used for firewood (Maybe for my chiminea?) and even to make a didgeridoo-like musical instrument.  (Hmmm… I don’t think I’ll try the latter.)

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This morning’s entertainment on the terrace…


Birds of a feather awaiting…


Bath time at the fountain.


Yippee, my turn!!!

Fun at the fountain is for the birds.

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A pause in the Día de Muertos coverage for breaking news!!!

A few months ago, I replaced the small lightweight plastic table, that came with my apartment, with a larger dark green/black wrought iron one.  A couple of weeks ago, I exchanged the faded blue umbrella for a dark green one.  However, blue plastic chairs continued to surround the table — dark green chairs remained elusive, until today.  All was now color-coordinated perfection.


Then, late this afternoon the winds came, the umbrella took flight, and disappeared


Up, up, and away over the terrace it sailed, landing on the rooftop of the apartment compound bodega.  Thank goodness it didn’t leave the property!


However, there is good news — with the aid of an extension ladder, long pole, and another gust of wind, my neighbor D freed it from the tree limb and its new rooftop perch.  Intact, it slowly glided down to the driveway.  It is now back, standing in the center of the table — albeit collapsed and fastened with a bungee cord.  Great minds are working on ways to better secure it.

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Two weeks ago, we returned to San Juan Guelavía to pick up my new custom-made lampshades.  Again, Teresa and her family welcomed us with open arms.  A couple of plastic chairs were positioned in the shade under the tree and Dulce, Teresa’s daughter, snuggled up beside me, as abuela and abuelo continued working.

Teresa briefly disappeared, but soon re-emerged, from the gate hidden in the carrizo fence, carrying my new hand-woven carrizo lampshades!  After many oohs and aahs, expressions of “muchisimas gracias” by me over and over, and big smiles all around, blogger buddy Chris posed us for the requisite photo-op.


After paying for my new treasures and many more “many thanks,” shades were put in the trunk and we slid into the front seats of the car, and headed back to the city.  Once home, I called Cristian, my electrician and scheduled the installation of the lampshades.  The smaller was hung outside my front door…

and the larger beneath the pergola on the terrace.

I love how the light glows through the finely woven carrizo.  I’m a very satisfied customer!

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I moved into the bigger and better Casita Colibrí (aka, my apartment) almost 16 months ago — and there’s been some big changes made!  First on the agenda was screens on doors and windows because, as I’ve mentioned before, Mexican mosquitoes love me.  Next up was the swimming pool…

Empty swimming pool

I know, living in a climate where the daytime temperatures hover between the high 70s and low 90s (Fahrenheit) year round, a swimming pool sounds like perfection.  I love to swim and have always wanted a swimming pool.  HOWEVER, the pool hasn’t seen anything more than rainwater (and the aforementioned and unwanted mosquitoes) for the past 15 to 20 years.  In addition, as we were reminded last week, this is earthquake country, so who knows how many cracks there may be hidden behind those tiles.  Then there is the not-so-little problem of water shortages in the city.
P1080300Thus, making it my personal aquatic paradise was out of the question.  What to do?   Besides being unsightly, I was constantly afraid someone (including myself) might become so enchanted with the view and/or engaged in such captivating conversation, they (I) would unwittingly fall in — a thought that brought nightmares!  As you can see above, my solution to that possibility was to barricade the pool with plants.  However, the combination of the still conspicuous and ugly gaping hole behind, not to mention the waste of valuable space, finally got to me and, though only a renter, I decided to build a deck!

Deck being constructed over empty pool

In October, Juan (of Adios mosquitos fame) and I boarded a bus for the La Asunción to pick out the lumber from their mind-boggling selection of wood.  They delivered four days later and Juan and Nacho, his trusty assistant, commenced to building, what is probably, the strongest deck in all of Oaxaca.


The space.  The view.  What an improvement!  However, that wasn’t the end of the story.  Do you see those four posts sticking up from the deck?  Because the deck faces south, those were for a much-needed shade structure.  Alas, Juan also has a “day” job at Gorilla Glass and they have gotten extremely busy.  Good for them, bad for me!  After I returned from the trip to the US in late February, I began a search for someone to complete the project.  Tom (a friend’s husband) came to the rescue.  He designed the structure, recruited Carlos and his assistant Chivo to build it, selected the materials, delivered said materials and crew, and supervised construction.  Needless to say, I owe Tom big time!

Shade structure under construction

Yesterday, after less than two days of construction, the long-awaited gazebo was ready to shield yours truly and her visitors from the sun’s skin damaging rays, not to mention sweltering heat.  Almost immediately after the guys finished, the heavens opened and we were treated to a massive, five-hour long thunderstorm.  The timing couldn’t have been better!

Lamina & wood shade structure on wooden deck

By this morning the rains had departed and, with Templo de San José and the Basilica de la Soledad as a backdrop, my new outside room was ready for her close-up.  All day today, in between trying to get work done around the house, I kept running outside to admire it.

View from above of deck & shade structure

And, it has already been put to good use — a little after noon today, when the sun was at its zenith and sitting outside in days past would have been the last thing we would have considered, my neighbor Marga and I sat comfortably shielded from the sun in those green chairs.  Ahhh…

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… it must be time to water Casita Colibrí’s growing garden!

Casita Colibri sign

The 112 containers, from 6″ to 24″ pots and 30″ x 8″ x 8″ planter boxes decorating my entry and terrace, are brimming with one to twelve succulents and cacti.  They are watered weekly with gray water — shower water, dish water, and rain water, the latter when and if it ever rains again!  Oh, and then there are the 2 bougainvillea, 1 plumbago, 1 gardenia, 1 geranium, and pot of herbs, which require watering two to three times per week in this 90+ degree heat.  Water is an especially precious resource here in Oaxaca and we tenants must pay for all water deliveries to our compound.  So, in order to nurture my garden, everyday I haul buckets and dish-pans out through the terrace gate to my collecting barrel, a 32-gallon (not so sweet-smelling) plastic garbage can.  The plants don’t seem to mind the hand-me-down, fetid, murky water — in fact, they appear to love it!

Water barrel

With a few exceptions, my original garden was propagated from slips lovingly cultivated by my neighbor G, from his own exuberant and thriving terrace garden — a garden so profuse that there is scarcely room to walk!  When I arrived ten months ago, I was a disbeliever, never imagining that my terrace, too, could become home to a lush riot of greens, grays, magenta, red, yellow, orange, white, and blue.

An added bonus, besides (hopefully) filtering at least some of the exhaust from the diesel buses that race each other up the hill, the vegetation attracts a host of critters — giant friendly bumbling black bumblebees zeroing in on blossoms; geckos skittering across the pottery and terrace walls in the morning and afternoon, catching their breakfast and dinner; large brown crickets that like hang out in my “greens” recycling basket, not minding or even moving when I add more spent flowers and cuttings; and birds, including my home’s namesake colibrí, flitting back and forth across the terrace, chasing insects and sipping nectar from cactus and succulent flowers.

Garden God presiding

My garden never ceases to inspire, reward, and delight.  And… the garden god watches over it all!

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