Lots of pictures and videos this time, not much text.
Leslie and I have a freshly painted house — inside and out! The painting crew, led by Enrique and Fabian, did a fantastic job. We were most impressed with the cleanup, both during the project and at the end. They even painted the propane tank blue to match the house!
So the outside is finished but the inside is a different story. Now we have to figure out where all the artwork goes. We may need to supplement our collection with a few works by excellent local artists. I’ll post interior photos when we get some of that work done. Hopefully it won’t be too long, but these are tough decisions!
We’re taking a short break from renovation now. Phase 3 should begin in the spring. That’s going to be upgrading the landscaping, much of which is overgrown, and renovating the front courtyard. Any large-scale planting will probably be done in May or June, closer to the beginning of rainy season.
Ziggy and Marley continue to grow and cause more problems every day. Ziggy loves to chew on our newspapers and on paper towels his fishes out of bathroom trash receptacles. And they both insist on playing with the laces on my hiking boots, which are on the floor in my closet. Do they have real kitty toys? Yes, we bought several! Oh, well.
Marley is definitely a lap cat, and Ziggy is learning as he gets older. They are still just three and four months old.
The painting on our house is almost done, and soon we’ll have great things to show you. But the big news from here is the two kittens — los gatitos — Leslie and I have adopted! Both males, Ziggy is only about two months old, while Marley is three months.
They came to us as Ziggy and Azafrán — not litter-mates but “best buddies” according to their foster caregivers, Kimrey and Juan. We really liked the name Ziggy, and it fits him! Azafrán is Spanish for “saffron.” It’s a pretty name, but it’s a mouthful so we needed to make a change for him. Many thanks to those who offered lots of great options. Our dear friend Jo-Jo suggested Marley so we would have Ziggy Marley! Thanks, Jo-Jo!
They are rescues and seem to love their new home. Of course, they’re kittens so everything is a toy! They come from the Lake Chapala Society, which has lush, beautiful grounds and a number of feral cats. These two are from litters born to those cats. Several other kittens were placed, and at least one of the feral cats has now been spayed.
Leslie saw photos of these two on Facebook and just couldn’t wait any longer to have cats in the house again. Marley reminds us both of our dear Max and Sam, our companions in Illinois. It’s going to be a lot of fun watching these two grow up, as we did with Max and Sam.
I hope we can share photos soon of the house transformation. Then Leslie and I will live for several months (we hope) without any renovation going on. There’s still work to do done, but we need a break! We think landscaping will be next, but probably not until spring.
More good news. I have taken on a new volunteer role that’s interesting and doesn’t take a lot of time. I am translating Spanish news articles into English for local weekly newspaper Seminario Laguna. Okay, not really “translating,” more like “editing,” which is what I do best.
The Spanish-language paper has two pages in English. Along with several other volunteers, I take assigned articles in Spanish, translate them into English using DeepL (which is an outstanding online translation tool), then edit the result so it’s more understandable to ex-pats and other English-speakers. I may get a chance to do some writing also.
Finally, a shout-out to the Chicago Sky, who just won their first Women’s NBA championship! It’s a great day for Chicago sports!
Our home renovation in Mexico continues! Interior painting has started. In about another week, the master bedroom will be pretty much the same color as the new bathroom and the laundry room. That will make the master suite all the same color. The guest bedroom and bath will be a soothing light teal.
But best of all, according to Leslie, is that we’re getting rid of the purple accents in the living/dining room. The main area of our home will be much lighter and brighter, and will accommodate a variety of artwork.
Once the inside has been transformed, Enrique’s crew will start on the outside. We hope everything will be done before the end of the year. Then we’ll turn our attention to the front courtyard and the landscaping.
The second phase of our home renovation has begun. All doors and windows have been replaced and the front entrance has been transformed from black metal sliding glass doors to a standard double door with side panels that open to let the breezes through. The fixed panels are now etched glass with a pattern that matches the windows in the new master bathroom.
Now we can start painting the house inside and outside, which is the second half of Phase 2.
Interior painting should begin by early September. We have chosen a nice neutral color that looks great with our artwork and rugs. The guest suite will be a nice light teal color with darker teal trim. We’re still debating about a color for the master bedroom.
Exterior painting, a nice light blue with white trim, will have to wait until rainy season is over. That’s probably early November. So we hope Phase 2 will be over by Christmas.
What’s next? Probably landscaping. We have a lot to do in the front because all the large plants were removed for the addition of the new bathroom. We also need to redesign the front patio and move the fountain, which right now is in an awkward place directly in front of the main door. Plants in the back are badly overgrown, so we need to look at that too. At some point, I’m hoping to renovate the office area, which doubles as the family room, or TV room. Phase 3 certainly won’t happen until 2022.
Sorry it’s been so long since the last post. Leslie and I have both been dealing with health issues that have restricted our movements. Nothing related to the current pandemic, gratefully.
Briefly, we’re both dealing with hip and leg pain caused by pinched nerves. Being limited physically as well as by COVID has been frustrating, but we’re both getting better now and we can refocus on the renovation of our house. As our San Antonio friend Joan used to say, “Gettin’ old ain’t for sissies.”
You saw the new kitchen last post. Now here’s a short video showing the other part of the project. Turn on the sound to get the play-by-play. Basically, we turned the former master bathroom into a laundry room and storage area (which got the washer and dryer out of the kitchen to give us more space there), and added a new bathroom. Enjoy the video!
There’s more to be done, though. New paint inside and outside is important, but we need to pick colors first and we’re not there just yet. We also want to replace all the doors and windows in the house. In most cases, this means simply replacing old black metal frames with white frames, like the new door from the patio into the kitchen. The major work will be replacing the sliding glass door in the front with a “real” door that’s more like other houses in Riviera Alta. We’re thinking of a double door with screened windows on each side that can stay open at night and let cool breezes flow through. It might look something like our home in Illinois. That’s coming later this year — don’t know when.
In other news, Leslie and I are eagerly awaiting our second vaccine jab in the next few days. However, we got the first jab back in mid-March and we’re concerned that it’s been too long since the first installment. So we plan to get an antibody test a few weeks after the second shot. If the results are not adequate, we will head back to the States to get one of the vaccines available there. We know several people who have done that.
Finally, we really hope to be traveling again by the end of this year, if COVID restrictions will allow. There’s a lot more of Mexico for us to explore and to tell you about!
Leslie and I are finally back in our home here in beautiful Ajijic, Mexico. We moved back in at the end of January and have been working on getting things in order. Our architects, Juan Allera and his daughter Cristina, did a great job. This renovation took longer than expected and cost more than expected. What did you expect?
This project grew from the original idea of moving the laundry back to the master bedroom closet area and updating the kitchen. We ended up adding a new bathroom on the front of the house and creating a full laundry room with lots of storage in the master suite — where most of the laundry is generated! We gutted the kitchen and put in new appliances and custom cabinetry.
This video gives you a basic one-minute tour of the bright new kitchen. There’s narration, so please turn up the sound:
This second video shows you some of the neat features Juan and Cristina built into the kitchen at Leslie’s request. Again, there’s an explanation:
We’re still getting the laundry area organized, so look for more videos soon!
Pandemic woes continue here. The governor of Jalisco clamped down recently, requiring those over 60 to stay home. We heard they were actually checking IDs at Wal-Mart to keep seniors out. Fortunately, we rarely go to Wal-Mart and the restriction does not apply to the smaller mercados where we shop. Masks are required everywhere. We’re both signed up for vaccination appointments but have not yet received a firm date and time. Can’t wait to have an open house and show off our renovation!
Our renovation is almost done and, of course, it’s later than expected and a little over budget. What a shock! We have our rental until Jan. 15 and we hope to move back into our home by then. We’ve got lots of cleaning to do!
The next important thing is to get everybody COVID-vaccinated so you can come visit!
Leslie and I will still be in our rental for Christmas. The upgraded kitchen and bathroom projects will apparently go into early January. Hopefully done by Jan. 15. So here are a few more photos of the renovation, along with a Merry Christmas to all!
Maybe. The renovation is on schedule. Work on the kitchen plumbing and electrical is done, as is the wall repair and painting. The appliances have been delivered and the carpenter is taking last-minute measurements for the cabinetry. So the kitchen, at least, may be finished on time.
We’ve been picking out tiles and fixtures for the new bathroom, and the old bathroom is almost ready for the washer and dryer. I’m providing as many photos as possible at the end of this post.
In other news, Leslie and I always believed there was a bit of “magic” in our charming little village of Ajijic. Now the federal government agrees. Ajijic was just named a “Pueblo Mágico,” or Magical Village. It’s one of 11 new Pueblos Mágicos throughout Mexico. There are now nine in the state of Jalisco.
This program promotes tourism, especially among Mexicans. So there is some concern about how the village is going to handle lots of new turistas. Parking is quite limited in the village and there are not a lot of hotel rooms available. The upside is that local officials expect a number of improvements — most notably an enormous project to move all utility wires underground. That will likely take years to complete. We’ll see.
Leslie and I have been to several Pueblos Mágicos in the time we’ve lived here. We think this designation will be great for the Lakeside area.
Finally, the pandemic continues. We’ve heard news reports that Mexico has a plan for distributing the Pfizer vaccine early in 2021. We are in the third priority group, right behind health care professionals and people over 80. No discrimination — natives and gringos will all be treated the same. Maybe this is the beginning of the end.
Today (Nov. 17) marks four weeks of construction and the new master bathroom is taking shape in our Mexican casa. It may not be quite as large as we expected but it will have two sinks with lighted mirrors, a walk-in shower with a rain-style shower head, and a vanity area for Leslie, with a nice boveda ceiling.
The crew is putting in the plumbing and electrical, which means the floor is still dirt. They’re starting on the new laundry room and the new kitchen, too. We think everything is on schedule.
We’re selecting tile, faucets, fixtures and kitchen appliances now. So many choices!
One huge change has already happened. The new master bathroom and kitchen renovation was Phase One. Changes to the front wall and entry into the courtyard was to be part of Phase Two. But our architect, Juan Allera, proposed doing all the work to the front entrance now because it made sense. I asked how much that would add to the total project. The figure was fairly low because it’s mostly labor, so we gave the green light. Most of the front wall is gone now!
We still hope to be back in our house by Christmas, but some of the appliances are going to take a few weeks to deliver. Fingers crossed!