Summer on the porch, anyone?

Yes, it’s been awhile. Sorry. Life happened! I had visitors, I had to work, I traveled, but I kept doing stuff in my little crooked house, of course, and I will catch you up on some of that starting with the PORCH.

Shortly after I moved in, it looked like this (above), a plant, a table and chairs (from Target on sale) and I later painted the front doors and opened the sidelights as you see in the shot on the right from last August.

One day, my neighbor two doors down (or up?) told me that another neighbor who was moving into assisted living had some porch furniture and if I helped them out with packing and such, she might let me have it. It looked like this (below) and I said, “yes, oh, yes!” before even seeing the cushions.

One evening I did go help pack some tchotchkes in the dining room and was permitted to then carry the two chairs, sofa and table and the FANTASTIC cushions for them to my porch!

Is there anything more perfect for ol’ me and my blue heaven? I ask you!

The porch sits atop a room in the basement that, I’m told, would have originally been used to store the coal for heating. And there was a leak. Just a slow little dripping after a heavy rain, but water is water and it’s not good in some places. I tried sealing the cracks in the porch floor with the caulk I had, but it only mitigated the problem for a short while. More on that to come.

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By November, my front porch and garden looked as you see them below. Nicely done, pat on back.

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One day I decided to use some more of the Merry Teal paint left over from the front door on the messy old threshold…

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Scratch, scrape.

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Very merry indeed.2018-02-21 14.15.24

Watch your step!

Winter came and went. April rolled around and so did ambition again. I bought an outdoor rug (on sale, of course) and simply to hide SOME of the ugly wall, I hung a curtain, specifically a blue shower curtain, on it. Not the best solution, I know. Why not across the whole wall? Why not higher up? Why at all? We’ll never know.

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It won’t stay there forever; it blows around in the wind too much. Note the hex sign on the brick wall. I had one like it in my kitchen for years and years. We’d bought it on a trip through Pennsylvania back in the 1980s and I found on just like it, but bigger, on Etsy. “Wilkum” it says.2018-04-04 09.54.11

There are also still two snow shovels on the porch. In APRIL!

The next big job was to free the porch of the gray paint. I originally thought I’d paint over it with another porch floor paint color, but over the winter, the paint just cracked and blistered and chipped, so it became evident it would have to be scraped off. And the person to do that scraping would be me. Without much comment, here are photos of the progress…

I got down as far as I could go, found all sorts of other colors underneath, but some simply was embedded in the cement. I also unearthed all the cracks and decided to get rid of the leaking once and for all (or until another winter comes). I over-used the sealant and filled in not just the hairline cracks, but all the visible breaks or possible future cracks just in case.

Incredibly enough, the leak actually stopped!

Some more shots of my progress as it took many days and really built me some abs getting down on my knees and scrape, scrape, scraping. Neighbors came by and asked what color I was going to paint it and didn’t seem all that happy when I said I might just leave it like this. “Distressed.” “Shabby chic,” it’s called. I like it. Over time, I think the rest of the paint will chip and peel and wear away and then I will have nice clean cement, which was as the builders intended it and fine with me.

Can you see them alright? I hope so. Just tap on them to enlarge!

Then there was the problem of the stone wall in front, which some doofus also painted over in gray. The paint stripper worked on it, too, but left the undercoating of what may be whitewash and I hope will also weather away eventually so the beautiful old stone can come back through.

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Above, I’ve just begun working on it. This required a wire brush or three.2018-05-01 10.02.28

And here’s the whitewash or whatever. And the exposed cracks on the right of the window above the walkway, see ’em?2018-05-06 13.16.40

Well, I had bought some cement and figured out how to use it. Maybe not well or correctly, but I filled in the cracks.

One fine day, before I threw them out I happened to glance at the flyers that were enclosed in my monthly water bill. “Rain Check,” one said. And “Free rain barrel!”

I turned away from the waste paper basket and read more closely. Yes, there is a program called Rain Check, which is Philadelphia Water’s residential stormwater management program. They offer other stormwater “tools” besides a free rain barrel and we’ll discuss them in a later post when my other tool is installed. In the meantime, I took the one-hour workshop that ensured me a free rain barrel to collect rainwater at least from the front downspout of my house so I would no longer need to use expensive tap water for my garden and planters! It arrived one day, was installed in a few minutes and has been full of water ever since. I even give rainwater away to my neighbors because I can’t use it all myself and feel it’s a waste to drain it or let it go back into the house drain.

In the meantime, I’ve planted nasturtiums in the big planters lining the front, put some flower pots around the edge, have one planter just for herbs, a sunny faced wind thing-a-ma-jig and a proper shelf for all my gardening tools and pots and stuff.

There was only one more problem. The real sun! The sun shines onto my porch in the afternoon and evening, which is wonderful and great and lovely, but BLINDING and HOT in the summer. Long ago, I’d searched for a sun shade. Not a straw one like my neighbors have, but a really sturdy one. I found one online, but didn’t like the price tag so put it off and put it off. One day, I went back and looked again. There were different sizes and I realized I didn’t need the 120 inch size for over $100, but just the 96 inch one for $56 plus tax! I ordered it last week and it arrived on Monday.

And, yes, I put it up all by myself.

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I went up on a ladder with a level and, yes indeedy, that IS level. The roof is THAT slanted. It needed only two screws for each bracket although I used longer screws than the ones they supplied since I want the shade to actually stay up.

There are elastic bands with beads at the ends and little plastic holders for them to hold the shade in place when opened and keep it from flapping in the wind. The problem was: How to attach them to my wrought iron railing?

“Wood!” thought I, and ran down in the basement to grab some of the slats I had brought home when my basement stairs were sawed to size. PERFECT. Just the right height, thickness and strength! But how to attach THEM to wrought iron? And immediately?2018-06-25 12.05.45

Hose clamps! HOSE CLAMPS! Kudos to the person who invented hose clamps, may they thrive in heaven! I ran to Mr. Kim’s store down the street, bought four big ones and there we have it. As they say in German (oddly with no irony or sarcasm): “bombenfest!” (unshakeable, steady as a rock, but literally “bomb-proof”).

The shade (a Coolaroo Sesame Exterior Roller Shade, to name names) is GORGEOUS! Sturdy! Handsome as can be! Lets through some light and plenty of air. It even cools the living room.2018-06-25 12.09.30

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And is see-through, too!2018-06-25 12.40.04

One nice little benefit that I didn’t even expect was this feeling, while sitting on the porch, of privacy. It’s really nice for an introvert like me.

Which brings me, without irony or sarcasm, to my initial question: “Summer on the porch, anyone?” Because it does get a little lonely here and I’d love to sit with friends, serve them a cool drink in the evening as the sun goes down and just enjoy a perfect summer on the porch.

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