Renovating an old house by a musical couple who want to live there the rest of their lives.
Welcome to The Glade, where the second generation of renovations has just begun and the mania about our home, music and other passions fill our days and nights.
We’re Charlie and Jo in the music world; Mary Jo and Charles to family; and JoJo and Charlie to each other. We are renovating a midcentury house in a Victorian historic district where we want to live there the rest of our lives. It's a 1946 house located in Maryland. We were married in this house.
Thus far (pre-blog) we refinished cabinets, added a window seat (still working on the cushion), rearranged a wall in the guest house due to sink/vanity replacement, planted a vegetable garden, and other quick and not-so-quick fixes. So this latest zeal for construction is the result of my having lived here since 1997 and feeling a need to ready the house for the next chapter and beyond.
So we took with us on our recent trip to Cuba both Euros and British pounds.
Having traveled on Southwest Airlines we flew into Terminal 2. Upon arrival, after going through immigration and customs, we walked next door to the departures area where the foreign currency exchange booth or CADECA was located. (Previous research told us there would not be a currency exchange booth in Terminal 2 but that was not true. We used it upon arrival and departure.) We were given a receipt telling how many of each denomination would be in the pile of money. We had been warned of being cheated on these transactions and so counted the money at the window. We had been shorted 10 CUC which was corrected by the teller without much persuasion.
We exchanged only Euros for Cuban Convertible dollars or CUC. For about 800 Euros we received about 1000 CUC give or take which was more than sufficient for a 5-day stay since our accommodations had already been paid for.
Cuba has $3 bills which at first took Charlie and me by surprise. The phrase “phony as a $3 bill” came immediately to mind but it was perfectly legitimate.
There is a second type of paper money in Cuba called a CUP which is worth about 1/24th of a CUC; one bill is worth a little more than 4 cents. The way to quickly tell a CUC from a CUP is that CUCs have monuments on them and CUPs have people’s faces.
When Charlie went out to buy a morning coffee at a ventanilla it cost him a nickel or 1 CUP which he had been given by one of our hosts. Coffee in a restaurant was usually between 1 and 1.5 CUCs.
We exchanged our left over Cuban money, CUCs only, again at the CADECA in Terminal 2 at departure. This time we asked for British pounds since we have a future trip planned there. Unfortunately our only choices were Euros and American dollars; we took the Euros.
While I was in line waiting to exchange Cuban money an airport employee asked me if I wanted to exchange 100 CUC for $100 US — one to one — I agreed.
Does foreign exchange confuse you when you travel?
Glade Cottage is set in the woods. There are large trees all around.
Almost 2 years ago we had one removed that was dead because it looked like it would take out both the Cottage and the house if it fell.
Another large and threatening tree growing behind the Cottage on our neighbor’s property had succumbed to fungus.
Our neighbor emailed to tell us she planned to take it down to about 20 feet of stump so it would not damage any structures, including ours, if it fell. In order to access the tree, the tree service’s boom truck needed to park in our driveway.
The lumbermen carefully cut down and lowered the branches.
In a few hours only the stub of a truck remained.
Unfortunately their bucket truck broke down in front of the Cottage and had to say put overnight until repair parts could be had.
We still have plenty of trees but the Cottage and its tenant are a little safer now.
After the main hall on the second floor was totally painted and finished, Charlie knocked a hole, a major hole, in the wall.
It was so bad that almost the entire wall had to be replaced which lies behind the bathroom door when it is open. The seam tape needs a couple more coats of mud then we’ll paint the area again with Benjamin Moore’s Moonshine.
We had repaired it once before because the glass door knob had poked a hole in the wall. Now that it is repaired again we’ll try to be more careful.
Don’t worry, my 54% fluent (that is to say not at all fluent) Spanish does not allow me to write anything except titles in Spanish.
Charlie took a piano lesson at the Havana Music School on the first full day of our trip to Cuba.
We asked our host at the casa particulare where we were staying to arrange a taxi to the music school which we had researched on the internet before traveling to Cuba. Valentine picked us up in a blue ’52 Chevy and took us to the school for 10 CUC ($10). He offered to wait for us for $10 per hour (Charlie had a 2-hour lesson planned), instead we asked him to pick us up at 1 p.m.
We were greeted at a very unassuming building by Adalberto, a non-musician who spoke great English and was teaching at the local university. First on the agenda was 2 cups of coffee for Charlie.
Then we were shown to the rehearsal room where Charlie warmed up on the piano with a some classics from the Great American Songbook. Adalberto sang a few lines of Summertime from Porgy and Bess.
The young musician who was to be Charlie’s instructor, MiguelAngel, showed up and asked Charlie to play something. MiguelAngel immediately recognized Charlie’s “stride” style. We explained that he was here to add the Cuban beat to his repertoire.
For the next two hours MiguelAngel pounded out latin beats — timba and chachacha.
I filmed videos so Charlie could remember the rhythms when we get back home. For an experienced player like Charlie this lesson was a challenge but he is encouraged to incorporate Cuban rhythms into his repertoire.
I know I’m blessed to have a friend like Sug. When she returns from a Central American mission trip the three of us — Sug, Charlie, and I, — are going to work on some local projects. As anyone who reads the blog regularly knows, Sug and Charlie actually do most of the work. I am so grateful to be part of the trio.
What project would you like to have a team complete at your house?