A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wednesday Morning Comin' Down

It's 68 degrees and overcast. From the cabin windows it looks like a wintry morning but it's not, of course; it's still August. There's no wind, no birds singing and flying around; the air is heavy.

(The photos in this post are from earlier this year and last year. I didn't have my camera out this morning.)

There's one little fawn staring at me from the longhorns' pen. She's been here since her birth so she's familiar with seeing me. But still, the deer never trust us completely. Our area is very rural with few people so the deer don't eat out of our hands like some places. They retain their wildness even though throughout the years my neighbors and I always have "pets" among them, those deer that tolerate our presence a little easier and show a little less fear of us. We often name those ones, sometimes unimaginative names, like "yard deer", and sometimes, as my neighbor did, after a grandchild, and sometimes after Texas characters, like the orphan twin bucks we called Waylon and Willie.

I need to go get a haircut today but hate to leave when there is any chance, however slight, that it might rain. Not because I don't want to drive in the rain but because rain is an event to be celebrated and enjoyed around here. I like to see the ground soaking it up and the trees dripping with water.

I should have gone yesterday but couldn't muster up the energy; sinus headache problems had me dragging. What with the dust from Africa and the smoke from Idaho all blowing in the last couple of weeks, it's causing allergy problems. It really is a small, small world.

I've taken my coffee and iPad to the front porch. The birds are waking up. There's a hummer on the last salvia greggii that is blooming now, the one on the porch right by my feet. She spies the red cover on my iPad and comes over to hover in front of me. 

The little cottontail that lives here has moved into the grass in the center of the driveway. I almost stepped on him the other morning. He was eating some birdseed that fell from the feeder in front of the pump house as I walked by. He was born here in the yard; I first saw him as a tiny thing hiding in the giant rosemary bush by the cabin. He's always out and about in the early morning.

The white-winged doves are following him across the grass eating whatever it is they are finding on the ground. I count 13 as I sit here. There's a little cardinal eating buds on the cenizo. I hear a raven squawking from the neighbor's direction.

Out in the pasture by the deer feeder there's a jackrabbit and there's one in the boys' pen. A couple of does came in there to eat any alfalfa Woodrow and Gus have dropped. They don't like me sitting here though, so they move on. Sometimes I wonder why they never accept me like they do the longhorns and turkeys but I guess their survival depends on staying leary. I also wonder if they know I am the provider of the alfalfa they're eating!

It's peaceful out here in the mornings. No sounds but the soft ones of animals waking up and getting on with their day. No vehicle noises, no television, no human voices, the AC isn't running, just the quiet sounds of the natural world.

The promise of the seasons changing, one of the best times of the year. No matter what season it is we are always glad toward the end that a change is coming. We've either been too hot or too cold for too long and look forward to something different. Right now I'm thinking about the crisp cool days of Fall, soups and chili, pumpkins on the porch, scarecrows in the garden. Sitting on the porch with a warm throw in my lap and some Bailey's in my coffee.

Life is good. I hope it's good wherever you are this morning too.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Me vs. the Pump House

I only meant to put up a new can of paint I had bought. I hadn't meant to spend two weeks building shelves, installing plywood on walls, moving everything from the pump house to the garden shed, and painting the inside of the pump house. But one look at the unorganized creepy pump house where our paint is stored and I had one of those Popeye the Sailor Man moments - "it's all I can stand and I can't stand no more"! Does that ever happen to you?

We had plans to reorganize things there after Rick retires. We're going to build a lean-to and move the riding mower from where it sits now in the middle of the garden shed. But that day I made up my mind I couldn't wait another minute. Never mind if it was 100+ degrees. Never mind there wasn't a place for shelves in the garden shed. Never mind I was in the middle of several other projects. My mind was made up and common sense be damned!

I don't want to talk mean about a little building that has served us well for storage and protection of our well. But the pump house has always been creepy. It is dark and crowded and gloomy and the ceiling is low. There are no windows. Things are lurking there. I've painted and decorated the outside and it looks cheery and happy. Until you open the door. There is so much stuff in it you only have a narrow place to walk in the middle of the room. I avoid it as much as possible.

I'm familiar with creepy buildings. My dad had a workshop that was super creepy. I wouldn't go inside. After he passed away, I went as far as the door and Rick went inside and got a huge old rusty pipe wrench for me to keep. I could see that from the doorway. My dad was a pack rat and never threw anything away. He also never cleaned. The shop was dark and full of those creepies-who-must-not-be-named. And snakes. And mice. And goblins and trolls.

I have my method of entering the pump house. First I open the door and stand back a step or two. Just waiting. Giving anything there a chance to hide. I look at the ceiling to make sure no creepies are waiting there to jump on me. I sniff the air because sometimes you can smell a critter; I once smelled the musky smell of a snake before I saw it in our backyard in Houston. Then I zero in on what I want, take a deep breath, and move in fast and retrieve the item. I don't look around when I'm in there because I don't want to see what might be there looking at me! Scary!

But on this day I've decided I won't be defeated any longer by the creepiness of this pump house. I'm going to face it and I'm going to be the winner. And I'm not just going to accept the creepiness of it; I'm going to take the creepiness away! I refuse any longer to have a building here that I am afraid of.

First I went to the garden shed and pulled things away from the wall where I was going to build shelves for my paint. We had scrap plywood in the pump house and I used that to cover the studs in that section of the shed. I had to make a trip to town to buy one piece I needed. We had some leftover insulation in the pump house and I put that behind the plywood. I try to utilize leftover things instead of tossing them out. For storage buildings it's more important to me to use leftover materials as much as I can rather than new. For a project in the house where looks are more important I might prefer new. After installing the plywood I built the shelves and attached them to the wall. I feel happy now with all my paints so easy to get to.

Once I got things moved and organized I remade the shelves in the pump house so I could move the freezer from the side wall to the back wall. Then I mixed some leftover paint and painted the walls. It's not beautiful, but it sure is an improvement! I should have taken a before picture but it was just too horrible.

After Rick retires we need to replace the roof. We'll put some plywood down under the tin so we can seal it better. And before then we need to put a new door on. So there are still things to do but it's definitely less creepy already! I may address the floor then but it is a pump house in the country and we're in and out with dirty boots all the time, especially in the winter, so I have to keep that in mind and keep it real.

I had a few things that didn't fit anywhere; they were parts from a broken wagon, a galvanized trash can, a tripod cooking stand. I turned all these into decorative accessories, painting some of them, hanging them on the outside of the sheds or putting them by the bunkhouse. I painted the old trash can and I'm going to turn it into a planter. 

It's taken two weeks and I'm declaring myself the winner in the pump house war, but it sure did put up a fight!

Now, back to my other projects. The chore list fills the chalkboard and there are several I am working on that aren't on the list. Hmmmm, maybe I need to make a bigger chalkboard my first project!

One of the projects I had been working on was a little bench. I did get a chance today to finish it. I added a piece of iron fencing to it as a back. We've had the fencing for years and have used it in different ways. I like how it turned out.