Iced Tea on the Back Porch

This is the third August that has come around and I haven’t had to think about school. Instead of thinking on lesson plans and books and remembering kids’ names, I’m thinking on canning and freezing the garden’s produce, and sitting on the back porch with a glass of mint iced tea and enjoying these soon-to-be-glorious days of September.

Last summer we worked on the porch ceiling because the wood needed to be fixed before we could even think of putting a roof on top of it. We worked on it; I just didn’t document it, because, well, I wanted to have some nice photos to post about our wonderful, rustic back porch, just right for summer and mint iced tea.

Yeah, pride is a terrible sin…

I’ve never shied away from posting horrible photos of the cottage. You, dear reader, have seen pictures of holes in the floor, ugly plaster, dead mice in the walls, ancient electric wires, and rotten insulation. I believe in truth-in-blog-posting.


I’ve never shown you a picture of the back of the cottage.

The truth is, from the back it looks like an Appalachian Mountain Shack. This fact was brought home to me when we had to take photographs of the cottage from every angle for our insurance company. They didn’t want any pictures of the inside. The Beautiful Rooms that we’ve finished? Nope. They wanted photos of the outside. back of cottageOkay, so you can tell this was taken in the early spring. Actually, early spring, Last Year. Since then we have replaced, scraped, and painted some of the clapboard siding and fixed up the other stuff a little, but yes it’s still ugly. Although it does give you an idea of the scope of our problems. The mismatched windows belong to the basement workshop — not a high priority for remodeling; and what will we ever do with the cave there under the steps? Right now it’s a good place for garden tools…

We started with Mr. H.C.’s hard and fast rule — work from the top down. Replace the rotted boards on the roof. Put up new plywood and new drip edge. Take out unnecessary boards. Get rid of the spiders and wasps. Paint. And oh yes, put a new roof on the whole cottage.

These views made us consider a skylight or two, but that was rejected in favor of expediency and cost. Paint is cheaper. The new color is Benjamin Moore’s Segovia Red.

My sanding workshop around the back corner of the porch was in use again, as a door-stripping workshop. Lovely old French patio doors will eventually replace this ugly old metal door. It will be a great day when that old door goes on the trash heap.

But the work stopped when we discovered lead paint on the patio doors.  I don’t need any more dead brain cells, you know?

Now what was I saying?

So the porch is painted, the roof is fixed, but that ugly storm door is still there. So are Sliding Glass Doors # 5. And so is the ugly thirty-year-old indoor-outdoor carpet. Sigh. And the back of the cottage remains shack-like, with the top story painted and re-roofed, and the bottom floor ugly. (But the front is looking pretty good….)

At least no one sees the back of the cottage but the deer and the groundhogs. And they don’t care. And despite the unappealing nature of the photo above, these are views looking out from that ugly porch:

The skies and the birds and the green more than make up for the shabby carpet and the old screen door. And so does iced tea on the back porch while other people are in school…

68. Porch swinging

I have a love-hate relationship with our back porch.

Back porch

It looks over green Pennsylvania woodlands; the birds and beasts are abundant. The five baby groundhogs under our shed are down to three. (This is good — natural predation!) We saw a male turkey spread his fan for his lady, and we listen to the ethereal song of a wood thrush piping in the shadows of evening.

Last weekend the honeysuckle and the wild roses bloomed and the rain brought sweet air.  The porch faces east, so sitting on the swing with morning coffee is awe-inspiring; it is easy to be thankful and praise-ful for God the Creator on that porch in the morning.

Phoebe eggs in nestFour phoebes have made two nests on the porch ceiling, much to the consternation of Henry the cat. The nests are in different corners, so four birds flying in and out is driving him crazy. This nest is above the sliding glass door from our bedroom to the porch. We open and close it hundreds of times a day, much to the consternation of the adult birds. They fly off every single time the door opens. There’s a lot of consternation going on here…

The porch spans the length of the cottage and then turns the corner. Around the corner is my workshop filled with sawhorses and sanding dust. Old paneling (instead of tarps) covers the floor. There is electricity — a porch light, several strings of white lights that come on at dusk, and four plugs for various saws, sanders, and vacuum cleaners.Back porch workshop
The bar you see in the background was Joe and Clara’s cedar outdoor bar. It’s had some wear and tear over the years, and Henry likes to sleep on the shelves in the back. We are saving it for the cedar planks —  the right place for them will turn up soon. The other Phoebe nest is in the far corner of this end of the porch. We haven’t made it back there to check the egg situation yet.

Back porch

The view from my workshop part of the porch.

So what’s to dislike about this gorgeous porch filled with possibilities?

Vacuum cleaner? Carpet on a porch? Last weekend the edge of the carpet was covered in pollen and maple tree fluff. Seriously covered. I thought I might have to change the sweeper bag in the middle of vacuuming. Three hours later, after a moderate wind blew through — there is always wind on Apple Hill — it looked as if I hadn’t vacuumed at all. I realize that the indoor/outdoor carpet is thirty years old, and is ready to be replaced. But with what? More indoor/outdoor carpet? The colors are not inspiring. I think the best choice is to get a neutral gray and add some area rugs for color. Plus, the idea of vacuuming a porch floor just seems wrong!

Here is the real problem: Under the porch carpet is roofing. This keeps the rain out of Mr. H.C.’s workshop, and there’s no taking it off. Decking is an option, but it is heavy. The porch is ten to twelve feet up in the air at the highest spot on the corner. Sure don’t want any porch collapse disasters.

Sliding glass doors on to porch

Yes, the sliding glass doors are old and ugly and out of style, but they frame gorgeous sunrises!

There is also an ugly closet that sticks out. Joe and Clara used it for storage of furniture and cushions. When the house was cleaned after Clara died, inside the closet was the largest hornet’s nest ever known to man. I always open the door cautiously; I’ve never been surprised by anything yet, but I don’t want to be either. I think the closet has to go…


This is the sticking-out closet with the invisible door. Sometimes the vacuum cleaner lives there.

In this picture, you can get a good view of the ceiling, which is painted picnic table red to go with the rest of the porch. It isn’t beautiful, but it would be daunting to paint it any other color. (A similar shade might be acceptable…) And it is very hot on the porch during the mid-afternoon. Mr. H.C. goes around with his laser temperature pointer and says, “Mmmm, Hmmmm. 97 degrees on the ceiling…” That means he wants to insulate it to keep the porch cooler. We are currently arguing about discussing that problem. He wants to do the ceiling; I want to do the floor…

The other problem is the entry-way to the porch from the side yard. I’m not sure what happened, but the stairs are wider than the doorway, and there is a post in the middle of the entrance. The sliding glass doors are facing Northwest — The Weather Side. They are stained and ruined; I hate them. Everything about the entrance bugs me, but Mr. H.C. won’t let me take out the doors until we have something to replace them. He is right that the wind blows through, and we do need some sort of windbreak there. I have seen open porches with windows/doors on the weather side that look good. This one does not.

Notice I didn't get very close to these slding glass doors. Right next to them is an ugly metal screen door. Oh, I have plans...

Notice I didn’t get very close to these slding glass doors. Right next to them is an ugly metal screen door. But you can easily see the post in the middle of the  stairway. Oh, I have plans…

This photo is from my Pinterest board on rustic porches (repinned from The color is right, the French doors are right, and if you imagine the windows next to the door, you’ll have it. Right next to it is the Design Seeds palette — Rustic hues:

But for now, there is one thing we do agree on: it’s calming and peaceful to have coffee in the morning and plan the day, and it’s calming and peaceful to eat dinner while listening to the birds, watching the wildlife, and counting our blessings.
Coffee on the porch