12 November, 2018

Insane? or Effecient?

I haven't been around much lately. I've gotten lazy.

Well, lazy in some areas. I spend ample time on my computer, and I'm doing well in my NaNoWriMo word count. But this isn't about that.

I've gotten so lazy, yesterday I didn't even do my morning yoga. I guess that was the final straw for my psyche. Finally last night, I plugged in my phone downstairs in the living room, so that I HAD to get out of bed right away in the morning. But this isn't about that.

They've been working on the drainage ditch all down our street for a while now. Presumably ahead of the rains. (Mind you, we're in a drought, and the rainy season should have started by now.)

This is about that.

On Thursday, they reached us. Suddenly we had a trench about a meter and half deep and a meter across in front of our gate.
The view from the front balcony.

Fortunately, our front yard is attached by a small gate to our landlord next door, so while their front gate was unlocked, we could come and go that way. I don't think we left home that first day, though.

SIDEBAR: That first day, they were jack-hammering away the pavement, and Brett went out around lunchtime when no one was working, just to see what was going on. One of the workmen saw him and came over. They exchanged some charades and suddenly the dude picked back up his jackhammer and kept working. OOPS! Vietnamese typically take about 2 hours at lunchtime to include a rest time out of the heat. Like a siesta. We wondered if somehow he misunderstood Brett's curiosity and started working because of it.

It was hot. Super hot with that noon sun beating down on the poor guy who should have been resting with his colleagues. I said I felt like we should offer him a beer, but who knew if that was appropriate? So Brett took out a cold bottle of water and a cold beer to offer. The guy took the beer and now we're all buddies.

As we had seen happen at every other home and business along the street, they placed some boards across the ditch so we could come and go.
Not my feet.

I have vertigo, so this was a wobbly walk for me, but I made it! We came and went to the market, to the corner stores, to supper at night, and I never once fell into the concrete that had been poured into the trench.

It was quite intriguing to watch the step-by-step. They stored a pile of shaped rebar just inside our gate, and the next day the rebar went into the trench. That night we noticed bags of concrete inside our gate. The next day the new trench was formed and squared off. Finally as of yesterday, we have a ramp up over the now-deeper drainage trench and back down the other side.

Look how nice! I think the boards are now removed and today we might take the bike out and cross town for lunch.

Now, I worked for a civil engineering firm in the States before moving to Communist Asia. In China, we repeatedly observed small shops reduced to rubble on one day, and a new business built and operating a week later. No notice. People don't have a choice. Same with roads and walkways. The government decides something is to be done and it's done. It's not always nice for the people involved who lose business or have to move and start over.

I don't know of things like that happening here, but I am struck by the contrast. In the civil engineering world in the US there is often public inquiry, and even beyond that, there are many stages to road work - flaggers and roadway roped off a certain distance before and after the construction, traffic diverted...

Here, they just start work. The traffic is diverted by the piles of dirt in the road from the uprooted vegetation and the mini-concrete mixer. They place one sign at each end of the area they are working, but drivers are expected to be smart and alert to avoid the workers and their motor scooters and the piles of equipment. It's a bit inconvenient, but man, in less than week, they are out of our hair!

06 November, 2018

Could you Live LIke This?

Now that we've lived in our gorgeous house for almost three months, time for a reality check. We had a visitor recently who commented that our landlords must have a lot of money to have built this place (yet they live in the smaller house next door). I'm sure it cost a pretty penny to build a nice, 3-storey house, but we have found some places where corners were obviously cut.

First thing Brett noticed the first day is the kitchen faucet. It's a nice, tall faucet, but it's a bit loose at the base. We haven't asked for it to be fixed, because it isn't leaking, and we're trying to establish that we're low-maintenance tenants. Don't lean on it or push it too hard and it's probably fine.

The faucet is across from the pointless stove hood.

Also in the kitchen, the hood over the stove-top isn't connected to anything! It's like they installed it to impress foreigners, but don't understand its purpose. There's no ventilation at all, just a light and a fan.

Then it was the internet. They hooked up the exact internet Brett needed for his online teaching the day we moved in, and he can hard-wire into it from his office. The smart TV was connected via Wi-Fi. However, I had no internet access in my workspace. When we called the guys to fix the internet, it turns out the ports in the walls weren't even connected! Just a bunch of loose wires in there, while cosmetically, the rooms look wired up!

There are several places where loose wires are coming out of the wall, waiting for a new light fixture. Not that we are lacking for lights, but why all the wiring without a light? Doesn't matter. The house is only a year old. It allows for modification.

Next, one night I noticed a puddle on the floor of the living room, near the plumbing wall. We have four bathrooms, that are all somewhat lined up so that the plumbing comes down through a central location. In fact, there are two ceiling patches that clearly indicate there has been leakage before. We guessed that it was the shower in Brett's office causing the puddle we'd seen, and with three showers, he just stopped using that one. No problem. No more leaks. If it happens again, we might talk to the landlords about it.

So, they didn't finish the wiring, they short-changed the plumbing, and they skimped on the kitchen.

The front door isn't flush. It's just a bit too tight, so you have to pull it hard at night to get the top lock to slide up.
But it's such a lovely front door!

One tiny, cosmetic thing I've noticed, too. All three floors use the same white tile, with lovely black marble trim. However, the top floor is glazed to a mirror-shine. The top floor is basically laundry and storage. Why polish it? The living floors have no wax, no polish, just raw tile. I don't know if that was a "ran out of money" situation, or if, maybe, possibly, the top floor is polished because it's right under the roof and in the torrential rains of the coming season, water might find it's way to the floor?

There haven't been any puddles, I don't believe there is a roof leak, but the roof-tiling here is kind of open. I think for ventilation. One time I was doing my yoga up there  inside because it was raining, and I could occasionally feel  tiny droplets of water. I determined that, in the gusty winds, sometimes drops landing on the roof splashed inward under the overlapping tiles.

I have a friend in the States who would never live like this. She complained and had her kitchen re-tiled when it came out crooked, and she has never gotten over the fact that one of the corners of edging around the floor is slightly askew. 

We have a beautiful home that we love. I think, if a person can live in Asia happily, a loose sink faucet is a reasonable compromise.

29 October, 2018

Halloween in Hiding

I didn't think I'd do Sunday Photo Fiction so soon after finishing the last one, but the story that was coming from me oddly fits the photo, and truly was inspired by visiting that site. So, credit where credit is due, I found my inspiration at  Sunday Photo Fiction!

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a story of less than 200 words, based on a photo prompt. To join the fun...
Click on this link

The current inspiring picture:
Image: Rick Spaulding

The jack o’lanterns were perfectly placed. Cobwebs delightfully drooping from the eaves. Aileen’s porch light was on to tell trick-or-treaters it was okay to come by, but just one candle in the front window. She didn’t really want a lot of visitors. A few trick-or-treaters would be fine, as long as no snoopy parents were along to peer in and down the hall. She had found it was easiest to maintain her privacy if she didn’t act like she was keeping herself private.

Her black-out curtains were pulled on the inside, lined with lovely lacy sheers for the outer world to see. Only her loyally selected “family” were present for the private doings.

One large candy bowl was placed outside, but there was a CCTV camera on it, to watch for kids taking too much. That just didn’t fly with Aileen or her private brood. 

Her nephew was placed where he could have one eye on the live video, but typically they heard the kids in time enough so that his concentration was on the séance in front of him. After they called his mother from beyond they could focus more on the kids outside.

 Words: 199

26 October, 2018

The Ghost of Flash Fiction

I needed inspiration after being sick a few days. That's a good time to check into the most recent  Sunday Photo Fiction!

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge to write a story of less than 200 words, based on a photo prompt. To join the fun...
Click on this link

Last Sunday's inspiring picture:

Image: Fandango

“Shh… Mabel, more Living are coming.”

Mabel didn’t shush. “Oh, George, you act like they can hear us. Just don’t rock that rocker!”

The Living came into the ancient, decaying cabin, armed unlike any previous visitors. Usually Living meant hikers, tired, seeking a roof, holey as theirs was, to shelter from the elements. Or teens looking for a private place to do private deeds. Mabel hated that. She felt so defiled when kids screwed on her living room floor.

This was a group of three Living, carrying bulky cameras. 

One with black-rimmed glasses was scribbling in a notebook. Mabel moved closer to look over her shoulder. She was drawing intricate sketches of the old house. “Ooo… George, check this out.”

“I can’t move, remember?” the old curmudgeon grumbled from his seat by the fireplace.

“These are perfect,” announced the taller man wearing a jaunty scarf, as he placed each hand on the two rocking chairs. “They are the essence of this place. Kay, sketch them in situ, and then add them to the truck. I’m going out to look for the perfect piece of nature.”

And in moments, their chairs were gone. George cursed. He never cared about art.

Word count: 199