Archive for August, 2009

Photos of My Porch

I’m not sure how many I can download at once, but I will do my best.

This is the Wall of Books, under the porch windows:

The Wall of Books

And here is the Ugly Blue Rug that “graced” our porch floor for 23 years (!):

Ugly Blue Rug Under Mess

Yes, it’s a mess, but you did ask.  We’ve been digging away at the mess for the past two weeks, and the Ugly Blue Rug is gone now.

Here’s our new reading nook:

Reading Nook, August 8 It actually looks a little different now — the bookcase has been moved to the Wall of Books, and I have a larger, though unfinished, bookcase next to my rocking chair now.  I love my “mail depot,” by the way!  PS:  The Morris chair is a genuine antique that has been in Jim’s family for literally a hundred years.

And the “Breakfast Area,” where we have been consuming all our meals for the past two weeks:

Breakfast Nook

Lastly, though it’s not on the porch, I couldn’t resist adding my icon corner from the living room:

Icon Corner

The area where the Ugly Blue Rug was has been substantially cleaned, and I hope to get photos of it up before long; but I’m hearing rumbles of thunder, and am not inclined to take any risks with this computer.  It’s new, and cost too darn much.

(OK, I did try to get the captions next to the photos, but that’s not working, so just read down, and I hope it’s clear.  Obviously, there are limits to WordPress.)

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Most people who read this blog regularly know that I am addicted to Blog Things, which I get through my now-defunct blog at Xanga (I can’t remember my password anymore).  Today’s was an eye-opener:

You Are Reed
You love learning for its own sake, even more the most people.
You believe that education is all about the experience… not about the degree.

You prefer to go to an institution with other serious students and accessible professors.
You rather be with people who are truly interested in ideas, not in showing how smart they are.

Not because I’m not like this, but because until today, I’d never heard of Reed College.  Now, before I annoy my lone Pacific Northwest reader no end, I should note that this is not East-Coast snobbery — more like working-class cluelessness.  In my background, people had as much chance of going to Harvard as of going to the moon (actually, going to the moon was probably more likely, especially if you were a devotee of The Honeymooners, with Jackie Gleason).

So it seems I am a “Reedie” at heart.  I looked up this college on Wikipedia, and at first I was enthralled — you mean there’s actually a college that doesn’t stress sports over academics?! — but as I read, I wondered if I would be such a good fit after all:  apparently, Reed has always been something of a radical-left campus.  (No, it wasn’t named after the John Reed in Reds, though probably many people think so.)

That’s disturbing because, thanks to the aforementioned working-class background, I have always thought of myself as a conservative.  Of late, I’m willing to admit to being a “crunchy con,” the phrase coined by Rod Dreher, who wrote a whole book about it; but the more I think about it, the more convinced I become that what I actually am is a socialist conservative.  I actually do support publicly-funded healthcare, in principle, anyway, though practically, I don’t see it working in the US.  (I did see it working, and very well, in Germany.)  I’m fairly pro-life; capital punishment gives me the heebie-jeebies, though there are some instances where I think it’s probably a kindness to all concerned — imagine being a prison guard and having to live with the likes of Charles Manson or Jeffrey Dahmer.  I don’t have a problem with capitalism in general, but Reaganomics sends me into the stratosphere — the current economic crisis can be traced directly to the loosening of socially-responsible mandates placed on business back in the 1930s.  And of course, I am fanatically conservative when it comes to the preservation of the traditional family, and on that subject I have no qualifiers.

So I’m not sure I would have fit in at Reed.  But it’s nice to know that there is one college in this world that does uphold stringent academic standards — left-wing though they may be.

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Oh. My. Word.

In my last post, I made a few references to a certain contractor who had done a bang-up job on our then-new kitchen, and a little bit down, noted that I needed to look into laminate flooring for our renovated porch.  What I didn’t say was that the same contractor is doing the porch job, too.

The guy is our next-door neighbor, and has done more work on this house than anybody has for, I suspect, all the house’s 55 years of existence.  Our first clue that we were on to something good was when we hired him to redo our bathroom, and we loved the job he did.  So we had him back to do the kitchen, and we really loved that job.  Last September, we had him redo our back steps; for 22 years, we had been living with three stone steps that went up to a stone landing — no handrails — and as we grew older, that was getting a bit too hazardous for comfort.  (I slipped more than once on icy steps.)  So he bought composite decking and vinyl railings, and now we have not only steps of a comfortable height, but a lovely little porch and deck on the back of the house.

We thought that would do it for awhile, until he asked in April if we needed anything else done — he hadn’t worked since Christmas.  Ouch.  Well, as it happened, the front steps were also stone, and we’d figured we’d have them done in another year or two — now’s as good a time as any, since he needed work.

The front steps morphed into a nice little roof over the steps, and a new front door.  I talked the hubster into a mail slot, so now our mail is delivered right onto our porch, and nobody can get their hands on it — what I hadn’t expected was that our neighbor/contractor would build a little collection box, stained to match the paneling on the porch. Then we decided to have the porch windows replaced.  (It’s always been an enclosed porch.)  Good thing we did:  It turned out that the old windows hadn’t been caulked properly, and all the wood on the front of the porch had gotten wet and rotted, so that all had to be replaced — which necessitated ripping out part of the paneling from the inside of the porch.  The guy replaced it all with brand-new paneling that he proceeded to stain so that it looks just like the stuff that’s been there for 55 years. I’m telling you, he’s good!

We almost decided not to have the last phase of the porch done — ripping up an ugly blue shag rug — since we didn’t know how much that unexpected little side trip was going to cost.  Then he submitted a revised estimate that was only a little bit extra, and included putting down laminate flooring on the porch.  Considering that the flooring was included, we said, “Go for it!”  And yesterday, he slotted in the last board.

I have to say, I wish I had thought to take before-and-after photos.  You would not believe the difference.  There’s still a lot of clutter that we have to wade through to get it looking liveable — over the past five years, we just kept storing stuff out there, since we couldn’t use the porch for the first two years (road work outside our front door), and I was incapable of any heavy work for the three years after that — but I stand in awe of this man.  From having a non-descript 950-square-foot little house, we have gone to owning a cute little bungalow with almost an extra room added, but no extra square footage — that porch will serve us very nicely as a room for three seasons out of four.  We have a beautiful light in the portico that does a great job of lighting the steps  — the lamps had originally been located inside the porch — what rocket scientist thought of that?! — and an almost clean and airy space in which to read or cross stitch or just watch the passing scene.  Once we clear out the boxes of books and extra paraphernalia that have accumulated, it’s going to be almost heaven!

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