Nov 13 2009
Through our thin storm door I hear the unmistakable sounds of progress. Thumping and hammering, the muffled “whump” of a shovel sifting through dirt and a buzz saw’s occasional outburst. In between, the lull and laughter of Spanish banter.
These are the sounds of an intervention.
Mom couldn’t take it anymore. The demise of our house. For the past year she’s been scrutinizing the farm’s scars and battle wounds that we so conveniently ignore: the spider-web cracks in the plaster, the water stains on the ceiling, the curling wall paper in the kitchen, the radiators’ seasonal shedding of paint.
Tally those cosmetic flaws and add some toddler-induced wear and tear — an endless trail of wall scuffs, the crayola artistry on the bathroom door, and the mangled window blinds — and let’s face it. The house is looking scruffy.
So Mom stepped in.
A few months ago I hired a guy to repair the brick pillar at the end of the drive which suffered a vehicular blow many winters ago. Perhaps the driver was texting his girlfriend or squeezing a packet of ketchup onto his burger — who knows — but for some reason a car and its bumper parted on impact, leaving a spray of brick shrapnel along the road. Since then our listing pillar has been slowly sinking into the ground.
So I hired Jose to fix it. But on the day that he should have been roadside with bricks and mortar, I discovered him casing the house, picking at the clapboard and squinting at the windows.
“Your mom told me to look around and see what else needs to be done,” he said simply.
By the time I arrived at work, an email from Mom blinked expectantly: “merry christmas,” it read, “you’re getting a new front porch!”
I don’t know why Mom picked the porch. Maybe she planned to begin renovations at the frong door and work her way from room to room. No matter. Like everything else, the porch desperately needed TLC. The wood is thin and rotted — old nailheads pop from the boards — and the whole porch is pitched like a ski slope.
As a bonus — a major stocking-stuffer, we got landscaping as well. In order to see the porch, much less replace it, Jose and friends hacked back the towering 90-year- old boxwoods that hover around our house. That led to more pruning, de-weeding, tree removal, poison ivy defoliation — the works. Jose even unearthed the old slate slabs and voila, a walk way is reborn. Thank you, Mom!
To date, the paper-thin porch boards have been removed and a new porch framed out. When they demolished the old porch, I hoped to find some valuable treasures — maybe a mason jar of mint-condition pennies, an old hunting knife or some civil war bullets. But the only relics were our own: a rusted Bud Light can, a bald tennis ball and a mouse trap.
Still, no complaints here. The Spanish chatter, the thumps of concrete bags smacking the ground and the buzz of chain saws shape my summer dream of a shady summer retreat, complete with comfy wicker chairs, a good book and a sweaty glass of lemonade…