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Scuffed, wooden, heavenly

Work continues apace on the porch...Spouse has painted the steps! paintedporch.JPG(leaving a Mailman Path, right, to be finished soon.)

The story of the porch is so very much the story of the house--loads of potential, a good but faltering start, and then drift and decay for want of endless resources. Like many of our projects, it's sort of like a new capital half-built in the jungle by a crazed post-colonial dictator...grand intentions derailed by reality.

This is actually the second porch, a clone of the sagging and rotting original, which we had torn out and rebuilt some 15 years ago. When we bought the place, there were no front steps, just a plank; we had a cheesy set of steps built the following spring, followed by the total rebuild years later. But the porch reconstruction exemplified the dreaded old-house "mushroom effect"--where do you stop?

Under excruciating budgetary constraints, we chose to stop at the top fascia board. scaryporchhole.JPGWe later had the house exterior painted (just once in 20 years), but had the painters skip the porch, because we were going to do the new parts ourselves, and rebuild the old parts eventually, so why paint stuff you are going to demolish? Eventually? Thus, the original thickly alligatored paint still clings--along with a scary-looking hole, presumably made by carpenter bees who are brewing molasses inside or something.

We also skipped any attempt to paint the inside porch ceiling, because it was "too far gone"--and because the paint flaking off probably has lead in it, and thus we would need smart and more expensive people to demolish it safely, as opposed to cheap and stupid people who would track paint chips all over creation. We would also need a carpenter with the lapidary skills needed to replace all that overhead tongue-and-groove. scaryporchroof.JPGOr we could go the tacky but possibly safer route of encapsulating it. Meanwhile, the "diving board" is dipping lower to remind us of another job-in-the-low-five-figures screaming to be completed.

To repay this agita, the porch should be an inviting haven...with a glider. One of these years, I will "save up enough money" (hahahahaha) for such a glider, and sit like a lady from To Kill a Mockingbird, observing the passing scene in the evening breezes. I've already envisioned how how to keep people from stealing the glider--we'll bolt it to the porch floor. There used to be a hanging porch swing God knows how many decades ago; you can still see the hanging hooks for it. I'm afraid I would never trust even a rebuilt porch ceiling to hold me; I envision a "Three-Stooges" romantic scenario where the courtin' couple brings the whole house down.

For all this, the porch is magic, especially wonderful to stand on in the rain. Every one of these houses used to have one, and many have been bricked in to form a foyer or extra room; it was only decades of neglect that spared ours from a similar fate. We really will finish it, someday.

Across the school-ground it would start

To light my eyes, that yellow gleam—

The window of the flaming heart,

The chimney of the tossing dream.

The scuffed and wooden porch of Heaven,

The voice that came like a caress,

The warm kind hands that once were given

My carelessness.

   --The House at Evening, William Rose Benet

Posted on Friday, June 15, 2007 at 10:41AM by Registered CommenterBrenda from Brooklyn | CommentsPost a Comment

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