Val should place a call to Habitat for Humanity. Jimmy Carter, if he can still hold a hammer, would be glad to knock a few holes in his sheetrock before moving on to the next "Photo Opportunity for Humanity."
When Val triumphantly announced his kitchen-beautiful project, in the midst of the worst housing slump in history, I pointed out to him that it might not be the best time to stake the house on the house. Since Val is a construction project manager and his wife a realtor, it shouldn't have been necessary to point that out to him.
Just as he himself predicted, the kitchen project grew like a fungus to encompass the entire house, every room of which appears to be in various stages of renovation. His shower doesn't work and his kitchen sink hasn't been hooked up yet. Like someone else that we all know, Val is very good at levelling; it's the building part that he can't seem to master. That other guy has been able to escape the consequences of a crumbling economy and his own fiscal irresponsibility for 50 years. Val, by his own admission, has not been as lucky.
Rather than following in footsteps of another fellow Cuban, Bob Vila, Val has unwittingly recreated that PBS series where a family agrees to live as the pioneers did in the 19th century, or, sadly, as Cubans do today. Having "busted his budget" and reached the limits of what the Time-Life Library of Do-It-Yourself books can teach an amateur, Val was left with no choice but to appeal for help to his family of readers, who are by no means unaccustumed to such bail-outs. The foe of remittances or of any kind of assistance to his starving countrymen in Cuba has asked his readers to furnish him with a pro-bono plumber and pro-bono tile-installer, as well as discounts or donations of sundry hardware and construction supplies.
Where is the Val, we ask, who admonished his readers not to send money to their relatives in Cuba but fishing lines? Remember? "Give a man a fish and he will eat for one day, teach him to fish and he'll have food for a lifetime." Except, of course, in Cuba, where fishing is a criminal offence and telling someone to "go fish" is like telling him to go to hell.
Happily, we live in a free country where fishing is not illegal. I suggest that instead of plumbers or other voluntary workers and in lieu of building supplies, his readers send Val fishing poles, lines, hooks and bait. Yes, worms, lots of worms. He can sell the fish off his pick-up truck on Coral Way and with the proceeds buy supplies and hire illegal workers to fix the mess which he has made of the Villa Valentina.
The Villa Valentina