A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Monday, September 14, 2015

On This Day

Facebook has a feature that shows you what you posted on the same day in years past. I love this because it's like a journal. Things I've forgotten about show up and make me smile. It keeps a record of the weather and what has gone on here at our place. It's a history of our time here and of our family.

The last few days I've had a lot of photos and posts about Fall and the changing season. Sitting on the front porch wrapped in a throw drinking our morning coffee. Feeling that first North wind on your face. Harvesting pumpkins and onions from the garden. Making pepper jelly from the last of Rick's jalapeƱos and serranos and some of our friend Martha's bell peppers.

Planning our first trip in Bernie Ann, the little camper we had just bought. Working on the bunkhouse, trying to get it ready before hunting season and the family that comes out in November. Watching the whitetail deer, the babies growing and the bucks losing their velvet.

Getting the Fall decor out and stacking pumpkins on the front porch. Pulling the wool throws and blankets out of storage and putting them on the bed within easy reach when the cold settles in. Loading up the truck with jackets and fingerless gloves, ready for a sudden change in temperature, the drop of 30 degrees in 20 minutes.

Cutting and stacking firewood with Rickie, both for the fireplace and the campfire. Checking the pantry to be sure Hershey bars and fresh graham crackers and marshmallows are in stock. And that there is whiskey, Bailey's, and hot chocolate for those bitter cold nights.

Watching Gus and Woodrow's coats start to thicken. Making trips to the feed store to begin to load up on alfalfa. Noticing the water in the stock tanks begin to clear as the high temps of Summer wind down. Hoping the heron doesn't come back and eat all the goldfish this year.

I walked around our place this week, checking the trails that the deer follow. There was a slight breeze from the north with a trace of the coming Autumn. Not as cold as we've been in previous years but a definite change. The smell and taste and the way that wind feels on your face. I hope you have experienced that. It triggers a lot of emotions for me as it did for Rickie.

Memories of past years, past hunting experiences for him, and for me the part I played in some of those. Memories of my father and grandfather and uncles. Thoughts of chili and cornbread, and kale from the garden. Visits with friends, laughing and happy, the relief of the long 100 degree days coming to an end.

The leaves changing on the Spanish oaks, the smell of cedar that the breeze stirs. The lesser goldfinches and butterflies showing up; the hopes that the Monarchs and hummingbirds make it safely to their Winter homes. A rare year when we see the sandhill cranes or whoopers pass overhead.
All these thoughts flood over me as I walk the trails. In my mind I see Rickie walking ahead of me, as he did so many times when this time of year rolled around, me hurrying to keep up with him. He rarely slowed his pace to match mine. He knew I would keep up. It was his favorite time, and I see him walking in the cabin door, a huge smile on his face, a fake shiver at the cold weather, wearing the heavy green and black buffalo plaid wool shirt he wore every year for as long as I can remember. And I stop breathing and my knees threaten to give way and the tears fall.

But I'm grateful for these memories. And I'm grateful that I realized when they were happening how precious they were. How important. How they were the very essence of what life is about.

Take your time out there, slowing down with the season if you can. Make some memories that will comfort you later and document them if you can. Live each moment. Choose to spend time with those you love and who love you. Make it count.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Gettin' 'er Done!

I've started my part of the work on the cabin addition. First thing I did was build the little deck to cover the odd shaped area by the chimney. This will make it easier to skirt and also helps tie the addition to the cabin. Once I finished the deck I immediately dismantled it. WHAT!!!!! I know but I wanted to give the AC/electrical guys more room to get in the crawl space. The duct work ends right near this space. It's a tight fit under there and this is the easiest way in. I numbered all the boards and stacked them on the front porch. I'll reassemble as soon as I can. I have a center support board cut for the front edge that's not in the photo and some trim pieces that run along the side. I'll probably spray the chimney with some deck cleaner once I finish. We intended to let the cabin gray but the boards there have grayed more than the rest of the cabin. Just want to clean it up a bit.

Before I dismantled it I sat quietly on the deck for a while. It makes a great wildlife viewing blind! The deer walked all around the yard without noticing me. I'll have to take the binoculars out there and sit a while once it's finished.

Yesterday I finished the insulation except for the bathroom walls. I'm waiting on the plumber to do the rough-in first. Then I can wrap that up. I don't mind doing insulation. It's a perfect DIY job because it's pretty simple. But it's a messy job and I'm glad to be finished with it. I wasn't sure I could do the ceiling but I gave it a try and got it done, slowly and carefully. I've found that if you just concentrate on one piece at a time and not think about the whole thing it usually gets you through it.

Before I did the ceiling insulation I had to move some lumber out of the way. I had enough tongue and groove left over from the cabin to do almost one whole wall. I decided instead of moving that around again and again I'd just put it on the wall and be done with it. So I did that first. It was actually the first time I've used a nail gun. That was always Rick's job. Because I'm a little scared of the air compressor I had bought a cordless nail gun. I love it and recommend it! I put the nails into the tongue of the boards so they don't show, just the way Rickie did the cabin walls. I've learned how to do a lot of things since we worked on the cabin. You can learn a lot just by being a helper.

I'm going to paint the walls. I have a white/cream color of HGTV Sherwin-Williams paint from Lowe's. It's imaginatively called Creamy. For the trim I'm using a white called Marshmallow in the same line of paint. I'm going to clear coat the ceiling and leave it natural.

Several people have asked me if I was going to use drywall on the walls. I'm not, for several reasons. First off, I don't think it goes well with a cedar cabin. Second, it's not something I can do myself. It's very heavy and has to be finished well to look good. Third, and as important as the second reason, or maybe more important, is that Rickie hated drywall. He was always annoyed trying to hang stuff on the walls, making sure there was a stud where it needed to be. Which there usually wasn't. He swore (literally) many times that if he ever had a choice he would never have drywall in his house. Personally, I kind of like it. It is the closest modern thing to adobe walls which is about my favorite kind of house. Adobe has a peaceful look to me. If I was living in Santa Fe or Taos that's the kind of house I would want. I'm living in the Texas Hill Country and we always thought the house ought to match the location. Here it's a cedar cabin.

I've tried to think of different wall coverings to kind of mix it up and save money. But nothing saved enough to make it worth the extra work of using something else. The beaded board paneling we used in the bunkhouse and the kitchen and bath in the cabin is a real pain to handle on your own, especially trying to cut it and cut outlets.

I love corrugated metal but being concerned about creepy crawlies, it would require a lot of sealing along edges and some trim work. It also involves a bit of extra work for the outlets since it doesn't lay flat. And again, anything big is hard for one person to handle.

We used reproduction tin squares in our cabin bathroom ceiling. But that requires plywood to be put up first. I considered fish scale shingles for the gables but they are very costly and should have plywood first also. So, in the end, I've decided to do the whole thing with the 6" tongue and groove lumber. It's easy to install and with some painted and some natural I'll have a bit of a mix.

I got all the fixtures for the bathroom. I was able to offload most of them from the truck to the Mule and then to the front porch. The bathtub presented a problem. It was too long and big to offload to the Mule. So I cleared things out and was able to drive around to the side of the front porch, back up, and "walk" it off onto the porch. That worked great! Except for the two screws I picked up in my tire. I had tried to find all the screws and nails from the shell construction but I missed these two. I had to make two trips to the tire store. One to repair the holes and a second to get a new tire when the repairs didn't hold.

I'm happy with how it's coming along and proud of each thing I accomplish. It's peaceful working there and I both spend time thinking of Rickie and time keeping occupied so I don't dwell on it. I have a couple of tool belts but I've been using a shotgun shell bag Rickie got long ago when he took a couple of trips to Mexico to go dove hunting. It's lighter and keeps him close. Not that he's ever far.

I'm going to town tomorrow to order the lumber. The price is a little higher there but it's local and they will deliver, saving me many trips to Kerrville. While I wait on the lumber I'll go ahead and paint the one wall I have done. And do some things in the yard I've neglected. I've got a leaking float valve on one of the water tanks and I need to tend the garden. John and Zac are coming out this weekend to help build frames for the skirting and we've got a new deer blind being delivered. But that's a whole 'nother story!