Cinco de Mayo (May fifth) is a Mexican Holiday celebrating the victory of Mexican troops over French Troops at the city of Puebla, Mexico on May 5, 1862. While it did not prevent the French installing the Emperor Maximillian as ruler of Mexico a year later it did prevent the French from getting involved on the side of the Confederacy in the United States Civil War. In return, a few years later, the victorious Union forces helped the Mexicans kick out the French.
It is a day currently celebrated by many Mexican-Americans. We have been celebrating annually in Regina by taking advantage of the Cinco de Mayo five dollar burrito special at Mucho Burrito. They stopped doing the five dollar burrito for a year or two and sold burritos at regular prices and gave out tickets for a chance to win a big screen TV. There weren't any lines when they did that.
This year the special and the long line was back. We met Stephanie and Larry Carlson there and enjoyed our visit and our meal. I also enjoyed that Larry was already in line when we arrived so I was able to join him in the line.
May 6th I learned that, Saturday, May 7th would be my last day at the annual turnaround for the refinery in Regina, Saskatchewan. We had paid the site fee at the RV park through May 11th even though the shutdown had been billed as ending "May seventhish" because it is cheaper to pay by the month and the fees go up after the water to the sites is turned on so it was a good choice even if there were a few days we didn’t use. Looking at the weather for the next few days, wind was predicted for Sunday and rain for Monday and Tuesday so we opted to end work at noon on the Saturday and head home to Meadow Lake. This got us home before dark without driving in wind or rain neither of which is particularly pleasant when towing a fifth wheel trailer. Also the suicidal deer of the Northern Provincial Forest south of home are easier to detect in the daylight.
We drove past our turnoff south of Meadow Lake and carried a few miles further to our daughter and son-in-law’s place. A few years ago they bought a quarter section (160 acres, one-quarter of a square mile).
On that property was an ancient farmhouse circa about 1942. It had been dragged onto a foundation built in 1971 when a bachelor farmer decided he had had enough of living alone in the bunkhouse on the property and acquired a mail-order bride and her two children. He reportedly met her at the train station in Saskatoon for the first time, said “You’ll do,” and brought her home to his farm.
A true romantic.
The foundation under the house was a full basement made from eight-inch thick reinforced concrete. They later built a couple of rooms off the back on a shallower, less robust crawl space.
When Ernest and Deborah’s house in town sold last year they moved into the old farmhouse and started construction on a big house butted up against the old one. This spring it was finished enough to move into and gradually the old farmhouse was vacated. It was ready for demolition and a kitchen – dining room built on the basement foundation. Our fifth wheel trailer would be their kitchen as needed for the next few months.
The week of May 9th we settled back in at home and got the plumbing de-winterized and relaxed and did chores that were needed after being away for so long. We also started looking into buying house insurance and took a few pictures for the insurance agent and underwriters. Someday I'll get around to posting them and linking to the Shop/Studio series.
May 17th we headed to Edmonton to spend time with our other daughter, Rebekah and her family. Her son Ezekial was in the hospital for chemotherapy. We minded the toddler while Rebekah spent a couple of nights in the hospital as company for Ezekial. Juanita spent a night or two as well to spell her off from that.
This is what I blogged and then didn’t get back to:
It's May. We are presently in Edmonton helping mind Eliana, our toddler granddaughter, while our grandson, Ezekial, is undergoing chemotherapy for Leukemia. Writing will be a bit of a displacement activity. Better to engage in writing than thinking I always say. It looks like the blog has been neglected since the last week of February. I'll try to correct that sad situation over the next couple of days. It is hard to sit around wringing one's hands if the fingers are busy on a keyboard.
May 22, 2016 - Back home yesterday. Plans had vacillated about who was travelling with whom. There was a birthday celebration to attend in Meadow Lake and there was some uncertainty when Ezekial would be released. Ultimately the doctor said there was no way he would agree to that long a trip even if he were released in time and with Nick getting a few days off from work we headed home with our thirty pieces of goldfish. Last winter was mild by prairie standards, but cold enough that the goldfish did not survive in our pond. They had survived three winters, but maybe the water level was too low at the beginning of the winter.
This morning we spoke briefly in church at the request of the interim pastor. He wanted people to know how we had spent our winter and what our plans were for the coming winter. I started by reminding people how much I like reading and that recently I had been reading about exercise and fitness (e.g. "You Are Your Own Gym) which as anyone can see is in the genre of Fantasy for me. There is one interesting thing I ran across in my reading recently – it is very difficult for someone to stand for even a minute on one foot with one’s eyes closed and without reaching out for support. Thus when you hear “we” or “I” if you think I am suggesting that one can do things in one’s own powers without support you are mistaken. People who try to do things entirely in their own strength are at risk of a fall from their pride.
I talked about SOWERS that we belong to and not standing for Slightly Overweight Early Retirees, but rather Servants on Wheels Ever Ready and the current stats (477 couples, 121 projects requesting help). There are projects ranging from homes for unwed mothers to kid’s camps and many other ministries and duties could include anything from plumbing to tutoring. We had served at a variety of projects, but had served often at Way of the Cross and in the alternate winters when we don’t go the states we spend January working with WOTC in Nicaragua helping prepare for Medfest. Juanita then talked about other ministries of WOTC in Nicaragua, the U.S. and Mexico and the pastor prayed for us.
Then the theme of the sermon was Matthew 6:1 about not doing your good works for others to see. Hmm. Afterward I suggested (in humour I hope) that the theme was a set-up.
While we were in Edmonton, Ernest and his brothers had managed to demo much of the old house and on Sunday we watched while they took the rest down to the first floor level. On Monday I spent some time sawing across the floor every four feet or so and in the evening Ernest hooked up a chain to each section and flipped it over and dragged it to the burn pile. In the next few days he started building pony walls on the top of the basement walls so the basement would have a higher ceiling and so the floor level of the dining-room kitchen would match the floor level of the new house. I rented a hammer drill and over three days, Deborah and I cut a hall wide opening to match the corresponding opening in the basement wall of the new house. Surprisingly the floor level matched quite well at both the main floor and basement floor levels when all was done.
Here's is some advice paid for by sweat and toil. If you need to make an opening of over six feet by six feet in an eight-inch thick reinforced concrete wall with concrete that has become incredibly hard with age find a company that cuts concrete with a diamond chain saw and who uses water to supress the dust. They will, in just a few hours, leave you with a monolith standing there, cutaway on the sides and the bottom. You then lay plywood down on the floor and push the block over onto the plywood and you use a full-sized compressed air driven jack hammer to break up the block into liftable pieces. By the time you have paid contractor and rental fees you will be out a thousand dollars and a day’s time.
There are no such contractor’s in our area. The rental diamond saws go two inches deep for electric and three inches for gas. There wasn’t really room to go as close to the side of the opening as we wanted from the new house side. So we spent three days drilling with a Bosch hammer drill and three days chipping with the same drill in hammer only mode. We tried smaller sections but that didn’t work very well so we drilled around what was left and pushed it over and broke it up with the hammer-drill in hammer mode. A combination tool like that wastes energy by having extra components in the drive train compared to a dedicated electric jack hammer. We spent only $112.50 in rental fees to make the opening and break up the chunks small enough to be lifted out of the basement, but I wouldn’t do it that way again. With all the constraints and no contractor available I would rent a saw and cut as deep as it could even if the opening was not as wide on the one side of the wall. Then I would take that back and finish the job with the hammer drill and rent a proper jack hammer to break up the block. I hope to never use this hard earned information.
In 1985 we lived five miles from the super market and six and a half miles from church. We sold our full-sized Dodge van and bought a new Chevrolet Spectrum, an Isuzu with a Chevy label. The monthly car payments plus gas bill were less than the gas bill alone on the van. It typically got 50 miles to the imperial gallon on the highway. Close to sixty one day with Juanita driving it on a fairly level freeway up the middle of Oregon. A trip to Disneyland by way of Reno cost around $53 in gas one way. We still drove it occasionally up until we bought the Hyundai in 2011. A tree fell on it a couple of years ago causing a ding in the roof and breaking the windshield.
Finally this May I had it towed away.
Goodbye old friend.
Juanita is very good at making it back to Meadow Lake for the Grandkids' birthday parties. Me not so much. Last month, for Sonja's birthday, I was working in Regina six or seven days a week alternately and didn't go anywhere except to work and to sleep. With the ending of that job I was able to attend Sasha's birthday party. And I thought our kids grew up quickly. Grandkids seem to be on hyper drive.
Ernie had a week's vacation starting on May 30th with much of his time focussed on working on the addition. For the last two days of May the joists and rim joists were placed and the first layer of plywood subfloor began to be installed.
The main house had started with the intention of using 3/4 inch tongue and groove plywood. The first batch of plywood had started cosmetic delamination when it was rained on. It is not practical to pull up large areas of glued and ring nailed plywood so the action plan became to change brands of plywood and to add a layer of half inch on top of the tongue and groove plywood to provide a more even surface for flooring. It also gave a stiff enough base to install ceramic tile.
With the joists on the pony wall we discovered that the transition between floor levels was not perfect and Ernie headed to town and traded the 3/4" T&G for 5/8" T&G plywood. With the 1/2" plywood on top it would still exceed the minimum 1" for ceramic tile and provide a smooth transition between main house and kitchen-dining room.
I hung around for the week and helped. Juanita headed to Edmonton to help out there with minding the toddler, Eliana, while grandson. Ezekial, wnet into the hospital for more chemo therapy.