Porch Work

I started this blog six years ago to keep track of the renovation work we were doing on the new old house we’d just acquired. It was a house and acres filled with history on both sides of our families and I wanted to document it. You can read that story here.

We’ve become complacent lately, and though the place is far from finished, the work we did this past winter is far from noteworthy. (What bathroom?)

Except for the last few weeks.

I finally found time and money (they don’t usually go together) to get window box planters for the front windows.

I also found time to paint the other front door that’s been white forever. Let me tell you — painting  those muntins around each pane of glass was a definite pain. (A small DIY tip: If you ever have to paint a door with many glass panes, don’t bother taping it off. I laboriously taped every one, and it just didn’t work. The best thing to do is just paint on the glass, and then scrape off the paint when it is dry). I also spray painted the metal chair and put it next to the door. And lest it sound as if I did all the work, the door trim had to be put up, primed, and painted too. The carpenter did that.

So now that the front is finished — it only took six years —  we can concentrate on the back.

The Back Porch. I’ve written about it before — here and here. I always say I have a love-hate relationship with it. And now? Now the hate parts are mostly gone:

  • The ugly sliding glass doors that were so cloudy it always looked like a foggy day? GONE!
  • The ugliest screen door ever? GONE!
  • Thirty-three year old indoor-outdoor carpet? GONE!
  • The closet that once held the largest hornet’s nest ever documented? GONE! (The door was opened cautiously every single time.)
  • The cedar shakes that were un-sweepable, un-scrubbable, and un-cleanable? GONE!

What’s left? Well, at this point, it’s still ugly.

Once the cedar shakes were taken off, the old clapboard siding was in remarkably good shape. If you were under the delusion that cedar is an insect-repellent wood, you are Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Under each one of those cedar shingles lived at least two stink bugs, an unknown cocoon, and/or a wasp nest. Taking off those shingles was one of the more disgusting jobs I’ve had. I got really good at killing stink bugs with one blow from the hammer. After awhile I didn’t even notice the smell, and although I got buzzed by more than one wasp/hornet/carpenter bee, I didn’t get stung.

This cupboard is now gone. The siding on the inside of the closet was painted porch red and will have to be painted white, but the porch looks much larger without it.

Here is Mr. H. C. Getting rid of the ugliest screen door ever made. He put it out by the road with a “free” sign next to it. True confession: I told him not to bother–no one would take it. It was gone within an hour. I think the guy took it for the aluminum.

It was a Memorial-Day-Work-In and while we were taking down the closet we discovered this writing on a 2×4:  it dated the closet from another Memorial-Day- Work-In in 1985.

It seemed appropriate that Mr. H.C.’s parents were putting the closet up on a Memorial Day weekend, and we were taking it down on a Memorial Day weekend thirty-three years later.

The Circle of Life, indeed.

Of bird nests and rainbows

Spring walking on a Sunday evening

Over the new mown trails

Through the raspberry canes.

The lightning and thunder have paused and

The evening sun glows through the rain spattered sky

Spring green leaves glisten and shake rain drops.

A brown bird flies up and startles us

just as our thunder feet startled her.

The hidden nest holds four speckled blue and purple eggs. Or maybe five.

Mama didn’t limp or try to distract us; she just waited until we tiptoed away.

I’m calling her a field sparrow…

On the other side of the yard bluebirds are nesting

in the rusty corn planter that decorates the tool shed.

She perches and guards five eggs.

The shed was half painted when the new renters began to investigate.

The paintbrushes have been put away now

until the eggs hatch and the birds have flown.

Drops of rain send us to the house for cover

But the sun shines behind the rain

And there in the eastern sky the rainbow glows

peace…

 

Where Chives Grow

it was supposed to rain today,

there are clouds and gray

but no rain.

the sun visits occasionally like

one who cannot make her decision.

i feel her pain.

at odds, at loose ends,

the calendar says spring

yet my doldrums remain.

Violets are blooming in the yard, and the cheerful blooms reminded me that it’s the season for morels. Country wisdom says morel mushrooms grow under old apple trees where violets grow. They like damp places when the soil warms up in the spring after a rain.

Don’t listen to me, because I’ve found exactly five morels in my life. And when I sliced one of those five, there was a worm living inside one of its many ridges. That dampened my enthusiasm somewhat.

But that was a long time ago, and there are lots of old apple trees in the woods nearby. Surely even a few morels would perk up a spring supper. So I gathered scissors, a knife, a paper bag, and I went spring walking.

I didn’t see any morels, but I did see a brown thrasher making a racket in the old berry canes.

I didn’t spot any morels, but I did spot a small native bee gathering pollen from a dandelion.

I didn’t find any morels, but I did find an acre of chives — thick, green, and onion-y.

I looked for morels and found none. Instead I found wild cherry blossoms, an ephemeral little stream bubbling yesterday’s rain water down the hill, the sweet song of spring sparrows, and a field of chives, ripe for the taking.

Isn’t that the way of it? If we keep our eyes wide open, we find that the unexpected gift is better than what we were seeking.

I came home with, not morels, but a fistful of chives and a peaceful soul.