Sunday, January 18, 2009

Caution: Construction Ahead (Continued)

Dear readers, you may remember the house next door to ours. It was under construction when we returned to the States in May last year. Our lot, set high into the hillside, provided a birds-eye view of the building activity. Below us the first floor had been completed. A second floor, with exterior staircases, was planned. There was talk of a palapa (thatched palm) roof. Speculation surrounded the final design. No one, including our neighbor who was building the house, seemed to know. We’d have to wait and be surprised.

And we were! When we arrived in October, the house remained at one story. There were even two tinacos (water tanks) on the roof, along with piles of scrap lumber and rebar. Surely that meant the construction was complete. Good news? Not so fast. Now the roof of the house was one step away from our garden. It gave new meaning to the quote “one small step for man.”

How would you get to the roof next door? It’s simple. The completed staircases, one front and one rear, lead directly to it. The roof was an invitation to come over and visit. And if we weren’t at home, well, better yet. Our security, gone; the front door, irrelevant. We were on lockdown; all the entry doors to the house, all the time. What else could we do?

Complaining didn’t help. I tried. As friends visited, they looked across at the roof and declared, “Build a wall!”More concrete? We couldn’t do it. We loved the openness of the garden, and our view of the pueblo and the mountains. Walled in, we’d feel isolated.

“Hierro, iron,” Irma, our housekeeper, suggested one morning as we stood eyeball to eyeball with our new neighbor while she hung her laundry. We smiled, exchanged greetings across the roof, and then made a rapid retreat to the kitchen. We needed a fence.

“Iron,” we agreed. Irma said Jose Flores Garcia had a very good herreria (iron shop) in La Penita. His work was excellent, she assured us, and he’d have the best price.

My husband Bill, labored over the design. If the fence were too high, it would resemble a jail; too low, it would be easy to step over. It should have sharp points at the top, and hooks; all manner of painful appendages. We wanted it to be stately and elegant, and, at the same time, to look impenetrable. Compulsive? You could say that.

But Jose understood our dilemma and added his suggestions to Bill’s drawings. He designed the perfect fence, a lovely addition to our garden. It’s not the eyesore we anticipated. It adds charm and security. Are there more surprises ahead? Will there be a second floor? Stay tuned.

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