Saturday, May 7, 2011

Arrancopelito's offspring: Rancho 2Pax

The beach facing sides

It's been over 3 years since we took possession of Arrancopelito, and frankly the house has proven to be incredibly livable and enjoyable. Can it be improved? Of course, but all the improvements we plan are somewhat frivolous, such as the "spa master suite;" or a third bedroom we don't need. So we can't quite bring ourselves to spend the money on such follies just yet.

This leaves us with a big problem, the absence of a building project. I threw myself into landscaping for a couple of years, but now that the garden is on its way to becoming established, that too seems to be coming to an end as far as it being a project.
The long window spans, from right to left, the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen

2011 being a particularly nasty year at home, it was decided that it was time for a project to lift our spirits and give us something forward-looking. So we summoned up Fabián, and in a few weeks hatched the current plan for the Rancho 2Pax, a single-bedroom beach shack with a combination of rustic looks and not-so-rustic features (the jacuzzi on the deck by the bedroom, a small but crisp kitchen, same with the bathroom, and really nice furnishings). That's the concept, and it can be replicated twice more if we want to in the future, as the siting and floor-plan comply with all zoning rules for multiple dwellings.

The lot, across the street and half a block closer to the beach than our home, has a very decent elevation which gives the shack(s) nice sea views on basically 180 degrees. We don't rule out renting them out for the occasional low season visitor, so the shack will have a wood-burning stove and windows facing the sun in every room.

There will be no lawn. A heresy in Uruguay, but how unromantic can it be to be awoken by a lawnmower or a weed-whacker? So the landscaping will have to achieve lushness and beauty in different ways. As much as the house planning has been exciting, the chance to come up with a different type of garden (here with the help of Isabella from Proverde) is the gift that will keep on giving for a while.

The new brood

Mike, handsome, huge and lazy

We tried to have Collie fixed a number of times, but our vet, Enrique conspired against it and would not rest until he had pimped her out. The lucky fellow was Corbata, a very handsome, large border collie (as opposed to Collie's smaller size).


On the day we were flying out for 2 weeks, Collie popped the 5 puppies in our living-room, under the fireplace, a suitable cave-like spot. Thus, we left happy but heartbroken at the same time.


It's now been 2 months (today) and we have just given away my favorite, Spot, and Laika. Someone who had asked for two puppies backed down a couple of days ago, so Stu and Patch are still with us and waiting for takers. Mike is staying. He's huge and lazy.

Laika was previously named La Traumada because she whined a lot, but dropped the whining and is now very adventurous...

Stu, as in Stuart Little

The old reigning queen as seen in full page ads in various media:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A few years on, some greenery, and a new exterior color

It's been ages, probably years since my last post. Last spring here I finally got around to painting the house in blackboard charcoal, almost black. The results frankly were all I had envisioned and more. Since we now have some greenery to frame the house, the popping effect works all the better.

We feel we have come so far in terms of progress with the yard that we're now even worrying about flowers! And we had quite a lot of blooming this summer. The gauras, both massive patches, have been a 6-month source of happiness. We had them chopped recently and they are still blooming.

The tulbaghias, both a purple patch and a white patch, are still in bloom and developed quite some volume after their spring planting.

The yellow broom retamas that we have planted outside our fence in large numbers, probably over a hundred, have grown large on the portion along the road, and to my surprise have been blooming since the spring. I guess it's the sprinklers... In the picture on the top of this post, behind the pool solar panels, there's a massive mound of retamas in bloom... Those were there before us...

The oleanders, also more than a hundred, are in different stages of growth, but the ones around the house are quite bushy and healthy, about 4 to 5 feet high and 3 to 4 feet across, and also had a very happy summer, thanks to the drought.

We have amassed quite a collection of ornamental grasses whose names I don't remember. Some varieties have thrived and grown massive, to 6 feet in height and produced a dense wall. One that stands out is the leymus blue dune, which is low in height but has an amazing spiky look and a fantastic blue-grey color.

Lastly, we have become obsessed with growing vegetables, especially tomatoes. We had quite the variety this summer, and particularly loved our green, black and yellow tomatoes, and all the delicious squash and zucchini (many varieties) that we ate all summer. The peppers we're finally getting to understand.

Barbi hard at work on our tomatoes

A long due update

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Back by popular demand: Lunes

Here she is, on MY couch, posing for the camera while covered by a velvet blanket, befitting the spoiled model that she is.




...and aloofness, ain't she a natural?

Monday, September 28, 2009

The kids

Collie is always in a state of agitation when around us, except if allowed to come in the house, where she mellows out and proceeds to nap. Outside she constantly chases Oso, as if he were a lamb, calculating trajectories when he's running back with the ball, intercepting him at an angle and biting him on the front legs. She also growls nastily at Lunes, showing lots of white teeth, when she perceives our attention is being diverted to Lunes. She's still quite small in size, below average for the breed. Must be her chronic respiratory problems.

A really red cardenal bird near our house

No amount of petting is ever enough for Fabiana, our outer perimeter dog.

No longer shy, Shakshuka now comes out to greet us and say goodbye to us when we leave, and is very relaxed scratching Lunes' snout when the evil one comes to attack her. Fearless and cuddly.

Ah, the psycho Zeytin. She follows everywhere we go, meowing away, and trying to climb up our legs. She also steals Fabiana's dead rodents and the other dogs' food.

 Oso, with short hair and in full alert mode, waiting for the ball to be thrown...

And retrieving the ball, closely followed by Collie...

The plants, one year later

Many of the millions of things we started planting in August 2008 perished, others barely survived, and yet others thrived.

I have pictures of the ones that have done well and are coming back strong this spring. Some of them have been in the yard for less than a year, as we have never stopped planting, really.

Gauras were my first flower flower, planted just for the flower, and my mom's gift as well. We planted 70 of them at the end of last summer, and they were tiny. Now they have grown so much you can measure growth by the day. We are adding another 35 to join the two patches that were formerly separated by a fence.

The guavas are native to Uruguay and do extremely well in our yard. We have about 8 or 10 of them.

The inga is another native tree, a gift to us from the owners of Pachamama nursery. It's doing sell, slow but steady growth and doesn't show much damage after nasty storms.

The Tunberghi pine (sure I got the spelling wrong) is a Japanese pine tree that grows bushy and not tall at all, and has done very well in our yard. We tried one out, then added about 6 more. We may add more yet.

Jazmin de leche is a creeper variety that withstands all the punishment in our garden. Other varieties didn't make it, but the four we planted of this type are doing great, lots of new leaves.

Acacia trinervis, impervious to our bad soil (clay), strong winds and salt air. Doesn't like it when pruned though, I've seen three older ones in our yard become half dead after pruning, so will have to consult with Agustin and Isabella on how to keep them alive when we want to trim them to form a sort of wall. They grow super fast.

The canelon is a native tree, we found it after clearing a mess of brush last year. It has been punished on the sea side, where it has much fewer leaves, but we hope that as the acacia trinervis "wall" grows, it will block the tougher southern winds and give it a chance to get bushier.

The purple-leaved dodonea planted last November has done extremely well. We decided the guy who planted had set them in too straight a line, so we added a few more a couple of months ago for design purposes, those are the skinny ones on the front, which gives us a before and after look at how the original ones did.

Espina de la cruz is a local cactus type bush that is very hardy, has the most incredible folliage in the shape of a cross, and the most deliciously fragrant flower. Also native to our yard. Our dumb former gardeners pruned them in their mutilating style, so now this one looks like a ridiculous little tree, not their natural shape, which is much more irregular and bushy. I'm told it will grow back.

Our fig tree got so confused with the summer in the middle of the winter that it produced a fig in August, equivalent to getting figs in February in the nothern hemisphere. As Isabella said, "Poor thing, she's so stressed." We're impressed by how hardy this one is, and we did get a few figs last year already, so we're planning on getting a few more.