Published in the Rains County Leader on Tuesday, May 21, 2019:
Last week I wrote about drying my wings. The weather this week was beautiful, and the good weather gave us a chance to do some long overdue work on our new front porch. So now my “wings” are dry, but they are very weary.
Sometime in the early 1950s, when I was around five years old, my parents bought their first home in Snyder, Texas. It was a cute little five-room cottage with a carport, asbestos shingles (who knew they were dangerous!), and a neat front porch surrounded by a white railing. I was quite a tomboy, and that railing was the perfect configuration for climbing, jumping, and performing daring circus-like stunts with my brother. Our favorite involved him standing on the ground and me jumping off the rail onto his shoulders. From there, he would grab my hands and I would flip backward and hopefully land on my feet. I was young, agile, and foolishly fearless, and I don’t remember any negative after effects from my antics. However, after more years than I care to discuss, my recent front porch antics left me weary and sore with a few bruises and several broken nails.
Our front porch project began in January when our old porch began to sag. David checked it out and found that a couple of the support posts were rotting away, so it had to be replaced. Knowing our limits, we contracted with a neighborhood handyman to replace it. Then, we decided to add a cover, and to make it match the roofline of the house, we extended it. We also over-extended our budget, so when Ed asked if we wanted him to paint it, we considered the cost and told him we’d do it ourselves. Apparently, we didn’t know our limits as well as we thought, because we’re still working on it.
Before he left us on our own, Ed gave us a few instructions. The wood was unfinished, so he recommended, a primer and an enamel finish coat. The main support posts are treated wood so he told us to wait about six weeks for those to cure before we painted them. Confident that we’d be finished in no time, we bought two gallons of paint and got to work. In our defense, let me describe what this job entailed. This ten-foot-square structure includes 66 balusters, 14 treated support posts of various heights, a square roof support with two center beams, and 14 rafters. This porch will be standing long after the house is gone and David and I are walking streets of gold.
Between all the storms, we managed to apply the two gallons of paint plus a couple more, and we have more to do. While I worked on the rails and balusters, David had been working on the upper parts of the structure. Using a roller with an extended handle, he painted the roof support, the center beams, and the rafters, but when it came to the ceiling, he ran into problems. First, the ceiling is particle board which didn’t take the paint well, and second, the shingle nails came through and got stuck in the roller.
Our neighbors had pretty good luck using sheets of foam insulation to finish out the ceiling of their shed, so we decided to try it. The catch is that, while they used insulation batts between the rafters and nailed the foam sheets onto them, we’re applying the foam directly to the ceilings between the rafters. That means a lot of cutting, fitting, and wrestling the mis-cut pieces into place. First, though, we decided it would be easier to paint the sheets before putting them up than after. Being the good wife that I am, and because looking up makes David’s vertigo act up, I volunteered to do some touchup work on the rafters and framework where the roller wouldn’t reach while he painted the sheets.
That’s the long, involved story of how I ended up climbing up and down the ladder, walking on the porch railing, clinging to support posts for balance, and twisting into shapes that God never intended for an old body to take. We worked slowly and carefully, taking frequent breaks and using lots of ibuprofen. We finished our respective paint jobs on Tuesday and took Wednesday off. We began installing the ceiling tiles on Thursday, and at this writing, we have four sections left to do. There’s an issue with support posts that are too close to the ceiling. There is also caulking and touch-up painting to be done, so this may take a while longer.
I know we’ll finish eventually, though, so I’ve begun picking out furniture. I have my eye on a gray indoor/outdoor rug with a beige trellis design. I also talked David into a couple of white rocking chairs last week. Some assembly is required, so they’re still in the trunk of the car waiting for the porch to be ready. As for me, I’m way past ready for my rocker.
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