The Screen Porch

Today’s guest post is by Barbara in Robbinsdale .

The past week has been unbearably hot, and no doubt there’s more to come before summer is finished. Already the screen porch feels like a wise investment.

We had talked for years about adding something off the back of the house. There was already a long narrow “utility porch” (maybe 5’ x 10’) with 3 windows facing east. Last fall we started dreaming in earnest. A screen porch:

1) wouldn’t require a full foundation so wouldn’t cost all that much;
2) could make use of the lumber that’s been sitting in the back of the garage for the ten years since we to replaced the old garage;
3) would be in the shade by mid-afternoon (whereas our front porch on the west side becomes unusable by then) – we could eat out there on hot evenings, AND more to the point;
4) we could sleep there on a futon on hot, hot nights.

Enlisting the help of our neighbor, a contractor, we started in May. By the time I got the camera out:

The foundation was in place.

Next, the flooring was laid, and the room was framed!

The middle window
became…

…the doorway!

The knee wall was installed, outside and in.

The roof was finished, screening and the screen door were attached, the extra staircase was built, and the latticework was completed. Here she is in the half moon light.

So by the end of June, instead of installing the bedroom’s window air conditioner, I tried sleeping out on the screen porch. Made up the futon, locked the screen door… heaven. A little breeze wafted through almost immediately. I read by “book light” (no lamps out there yet) for a bit, and fell asleep before I knew it.

When has something turned out just as you planned it?

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106 thoughts on “The Screen Porch”

  1. Everyone is sleeping late in this cool weather–65 here. Resting up for tree work at Steve’s.
    It took awhile, a few years, but as a teacher I was very good at lesson-planning. Granted that part of my planning was always to look for the unplanned event, moment, opportunity.
    In 1972 to 73 I built a house on the back of a cabin and that turned out as I planned it.
    But in the big picture very little of my life turned out as I foresaw.

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    1. 4 of us heading over i know of so far, linda, sherrilee, ben and i will be making them chain saws dance. perfect day for it. when else would 80 feel cool?

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      1. What time? We have no chainsaws, but do have strong backs and good shoes. (missed the news yesterday-it’s been an interesting week on aged aunt detail-long story short, I think we have turned a corner and are establishing a new normal-hauling branches would be very therapeutic.

        Is there a plan for disposing of said tree? Ramsey Co. brush site on Pierce Butler will take it for nothing.

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        1. I’ll have my truck for transporting the stuff to the Pierce Butler site. My chainsaw, alas, is currently lent out but I’ll bring bow saws.

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      2. Robin and I are planning to be there. For those of us who have not been to Steve’s, can we get a number address? I know the street…

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        1. I think we’ll be there too – can bring axes and a hand saw for little stuff.

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        2. How I wish I could help, but alas, right arm is still an issue, and my back is useless. Afraid I’d just be underfoot. Steve’s house number is 2168.

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        3. PJ, you could come a little later and bring the “Kool-aid” for when we’re finished. :)

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        4. I might swing by, but I have never made cool-aid in my life. I think tim has that covered.

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        5. Thanks, tim. I can’t believe it; he and his British partner, Marray, actually won the men’s double championship. Frederik Nielsen is the first Danish tennis player ever to win at Wimbledon, so I’m sure the Danes are going nuts right now. (I recall watching his grandfather, Kurt Nielsen, play at Wimbledon when I was a teen.) And Marray is the first male British tennis player to win a title at Wimbledon since 1936. If Murray can beat Federer tomorrow, Brits everywhere will be going crazy!

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      3. Who is going to do the guest blog for this project I wish I were attending?
        Which somehow leads to an update on my wife: she is doing well after her two shots. Much less pain, more mobile. She is lamenting that the sister five years younger than she is permanently in a nursing home. Her great fear is the nursing home. We will see how long we can stave that off.

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        1. Good thought, Clyde – I’ll bring the camera! Steve has recently shown me the proper settings, and is responsible for today’s photos being “not-too-dark”.

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        2. Glad to hear that Sandy is doing better. I think most of us can relate to her fear of a nursing homes. Hope you can continue to find alternatives that will work for both of you.

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        3. glad she is doing well clyde, sometimes that doctor stuff works huh? the nursing home is a transition that is a difficult one. hopefully it will be ok. no one likes to think about that stuff but its time isn’t it? id be interested in looking into a trails end for real. i try to think about what all would be involved. yesterday at the chainsaw party someone mentioned senior stuff is available at age 55 and that seems awful young to this group but its not really. 65 is ok but 75 is late. when is the ideal time to get the plans laid out. speaking of having things come out the way you planned.

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      4. I loaned my big chainsaw and safety chaps to a friend so will be me, the Pioneer Seed jug of Kool-Aid (for the road) and my little chainsaw.

        I wondered about disposal… somebody bring marshmallows!

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      5. Well, clearly Iam not there–I just logged in here so I missed the entire project. Nice, though. I also will not make the book group tomorrow, but I think Lou is coming.

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      1. And you can’t even see it from the street! We have a lot of privacy back there…

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    1. I did see a firefly one night, B-A. We always seem to have just one firefly each summer (though I know that’s probably not the actual number). I love it when I can slow down enough to notice that s/he is still around.

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  2. i agree.that is a great porch. i use the ten day measure as a rule of thumb. 10 days a year when its real hot, 10 when its real cold, 10 perfect days you need to get out and take advantage of. the last 10 days have been the hot ones. got them out of the way for this year ill bet. now you can go back to enjoying the porch. futons in the evening and egg salad in the afternoon, what could be better.
    what have i planned out in my life. very little, i thought winging it was a good idea. the next idea would come as freely as the last and i have been free to follow the whim of the moment. i envy the folks who plan sometimes and have it all figured out but that aint me. i feel so sorry for the ones who lived for deferred gratification and then got slammed by circumstances in spite of putting up with the less than preferred path to get there. i did get my fire pit 90% installed during the heat wave. thought i sweat out the poison during the balmy 4th week by digging dirt and moving a couple yards of soil around to form a good circle for the chairs around the fire. i always had the spot but it was sidehill downhill with the chairs and it was difficult to sit and enjoy it, been envisioning it since i moved into the house 8 years ago. got it done this week.

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    1. Congratulations, tim! But why THIS week of all weeks. What kind of heat would it take to bring you down???

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        1. I’ve been to Mankato and didn’t see any tarps for covering the grounds. Maybe they keep them inside where Clyde lives and put them out when it starts raining.

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        2. I’m thinking this was a ballpark metaphor for one of life’s rain delays.

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  3. How lovely, BIR. We had a screen porch and no air conditioner when we lived in Winnipeg, and we slept out there in the summer. It was wonderful. The porch was almost bigger than the house (which was really small). There was a large window in the living room that looked right out onto the porch, and we put the Christmas tree out there. The tree stayed fresh since the porch wasn’t heated, and it didn’t take up all the space in the living room. Were we in St. Paul we would be at Steve’s with the rest of you.

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  4. Good morning. I’m not good at planning. I made a better effort to do a plan for my vegetable gardens this year and it is turning out okay. I did make adjustments in the plan when I did the planting. It wouldn’t be possible for me to get everything right in the plan so I expected that I would need to make adjustments. However, the plan did allow me to do a better job putting my plantings in the right places and get everything I wanted to plant fitted into the gardens. The flower beds still need work to get them in better shape. I never get around to coming up with a good plan for these beds.

    Very nice looking screen porch, Barbara, and very good pictures showing the construction.

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  5. OT The book club is tomorrow at 2 PM at Minnehaha Park, right? I guess I would be able to find the meeting by checking the picnic tables located near the restaurant in the park, is that also right?

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  6. Will have to think on the actual question…so many of my sets didn’t come out as planned (inevitably I had to make some alterations for budget, time, director’s whim…), but they all seemed to turn out pretty well. I only disliked a couple of ‘em when I was done – but I guess that’s like your kids. You can’t dislike your kids (well, you could, but it doesn’t seem right).

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  7. I’ve never been a good planner. The spontaneous things sometimes turn out the best. I was planning to get a lot of gardening and yard work out of the way in May and then take it easy in July but that hasn’t worked out so well this year.

    I’m planning to make pesto (second batch!) again this afternoon. That usually goes well. I hope you chainsaw-wielding, Kool-aid sipping baboons have a safe and productive afternoon reclaiming Steve’s backyard. I wish I could be there! BBC too! Have fun!

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  8. I have many stories about projects that blew up in my face, went a-cropper, feeped out or totally flew off the rails. It is harder to remember something that went right. Two years ago I spent a small fortune having the gas grill in my backyard repaired. The guy who did the work was snickering about how much he’d charge me. Then, this spring, when I went to use the grill there were two blowtorch streams of fire shooting forward out of the grill, threatening to set the whole thing on fire. I wasn’t going to bring back the snickering repair bandit again, so I went on the internet and started reading. I learned that my grill might have become haunted by spiders. There was a tool sold that was supposed to exorcise spiders. I bought it. Then I took my grill apart and wiggled the tool in the venturis, feeling foolish. Then I put it together again. To my total astonishment, the grill has worked perfectly since then.

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    1. …”a-cropper?”…”feeped?”… I learn something new here almost every day.

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      1. I can explain “feeped out,” a phrase I learned from a famous New Mexican writer. Think of the Gary Larsen cartoon in the obstetrics ward, where the staff has mishandled newborns, letting go of their umbilical chords. Now they are flying around the ward erratically like balloons losing their air. Feeped out.

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  9. Rise in time for lunch Baboons!

    Great porch Barb. Are you having a Porch Warming Party? This must be celebrated.

    I’ve been out weeding my gardens before they take over everything–the heat was good for weeds. This is the first day in a week I’ve been able to get out there and whack away at them. The front garden by the driveway was a mess.

    Well, obviously my entire life turned out EXACTLY like I planned it!

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  10. BiR – I love your little porch. I have many happy memories of a big porch on the back of one of my childhood homes. I agree on the porch-warming sentiment. I can’t think of any really good examples about how stuff turns out because I generally think everything turns out pretty well. In fact, when something doesn’t go the way I want, I am usually pleasantly surprised when the ways things go generally turns out for the best.

    Did everybody get Steve’s address who needs it? Teenager and I are going over about 2:30 – one chainsaw between us. See everybody there!

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  11. Any reports from the crew that worked on the big fallen tree limb at Steve’s? I couldn’t make it, but I wonder how it went. I wonder if the plan to do that turn out well.

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    1. Many baboons make light (sort of) work. Tim and Ben worked miracles with chainsaws. Linda chainsawed like crazy to make the neighbor’s yard good as new. BillinMpls and Michael (Mr. BiR) made many trips to the dropoff place with huge loads of logs and brush, VS and Teenager got there early to help, followed by Robin (with Bill), BiR (with Mr. BiR), MiG and S&H (who worked very diligently and me. We had KoolAid, BiR brought the promised marshmallows (untouched). Ben distributed some beautiful eggs from Ben’s Hens and we sat on conveniently sized slices ot tree to review our accomplishments and enjoy the lovely weather. (I hope I didn’t forget anyone). Steve was there to supervise, of course.

      There are at least a couple (or more) of loads of logs/brush to deliver to the dropoff place and the huge extension ladder Tim brought tied to the top of his car (!) needs to be returned but an amazing level of normalcy has been reached.

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    2. BiR has photos of everyone and the tree and the mountain of brush. I counted 65 rings on one chunk of branch so we estimated the tree to be around 200 years old, born before Minnesota statehood. The branch took out one other tall pine tree, a fence and part of the neighbor’s shade tree. That was some branch! Some of us might have stood around all afternoon pondering how best to cut the branch down. Ben and tim just cut it down. Linda’s no slouch with a chain saw either. The rest of us ducked and carried. Steve presided over all and after days of 95 or 100+ heat, this was a gorgeous day with a breeze to take the edge off. It was great to finally meet Ben and we all had fun!..

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        1. Hey Ben, thanks for letting the s&h help you rock that big boy off the tree. Not the sort of thing a mom would usually encourage, but I knew you knew what you were doing, and I knew he would love doing it. Not that he would ever say so, and he will tell you it was pretty boring to be there and certainly there are more fun things he could think of doing, but really, what better way to spend an afternoon than hacking up a hackberry.

          For myself, after a week of a lot of coping and problem-solving (of the how do we manage to NOT have to move aged aunt to a nursing home variety), hauling branches and drinking Kool-Aid with a bunch of baboons was just what the doctor ordered.

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        2. MIG, I was glad for his help. He did good! And thanks.
          It was a fun day. I cut up a lot of trees that fall down on township roads, but we just kinda throw it off in the ditch. I can safely say, this was one of the bigger ones.
          And again, Kudos to tim for getting this organized!

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      1. Robin, if Linda is right that the tree is a hackberry, it’s not likely to be nearly that old; they’re not particularly long lived. Not that it matters, we all hate to see old beautiful trees bite the dust. Is what remains of the tree in good shape?

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        1. We puzzled a little over what looked like insect damage on many of the leaves – VS said she has a tree with something similar. Did a little research and I’m guessing it is likely due to hackberry nipple gall. That’s not a serious problem, but the splintered branch is – the relevant quote I found is “Even slight injury to the trunk and branches can initiate extensive decay inside the tree”. I’m no arborist, but it seems likely to me that an arborist will recommend taking the tree down.

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        2. On the other hand, according to Steve, that tree has sustained substantial damage in the past and kept going, so who knows.

          And because I just had to know, turns out that hackberry works up a lot like ash. Good for steam bending, not quite as strong as oak. There are plenty of Google images of spoons carved from it, so it is possible to carve it.

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        3. I wonder if “Wood from the Hood” would be interested in the big chunks? You could make a lot of cutting boards, etc. from those. And, presumably, they would haul them away for free.

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        4. i think the tree is fine. one branch came off a while back and the rest is strong and it looks to me lie the one that peeled off here is a clean break as well

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        5. Well, tim, you have been up close and personal with that tree, so you know a lot more about it than I do. I certainly hope you’re right.

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    3. I continue to be amazed at the level of generosity and caring within the baboon ranks. I’m sure that Steve was completely overwhelmed by the task and potential cost of having to restore any kind of normalcy to his and his neighbors yard; probably didn’t have a clue where to start. Hats off to every baboon and family member who just lifted an enormous burden off of Steve’s shoulders.

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      1. HI PJ! It is Sunday morning, and I just want to jump in here and say you were absolutely right. I expected people to look at my tree and say, “Ohhhh! That big sucker is for pros to handle!” Tim just shrugged and went for a tall ladder and some heavy ropes. The crew of volunteers included two wonderful teenagers and a chicken/duck farmer who knew how to use a chainsaw. The crew worked incredibly hard, cleaning not only my yard but my neighbor’s. And yes, I was overwhelmed by people’s generosity. THANKS to all!

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        1. Steve, I can only imagine how overwhelmed you must have felt at the sight of that branch. Now that most of it has been cleared away, can you tell if there’s damage to the garage?

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        2. OT – Getting ready for Breakfast at Wimbledon. This should be a great match. Can’t wait.

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      2. Wonderful work ‘boons. Lou and I had previous commitments already or we would have come. Our plans for the day changed so Lou will NOT be at book group but he says to tell you, “I really did read the book!”

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      3. federer was phenomenal, murray was good and will be around for a while and his closing statement won him fans around the world, but federer was on a mission. what a player,

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      1. Oh! oh! Mr.Kotter, Mr. Kotter!
        I have a dandy pattern for an easy to do porch swing you could whip out in an afternoon (please do not ask why I have not done so for my own porch yet)-if I can locate it, I will bring it to BBC this afternoon for you to look at.

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        1. good idea mig. if you can build a porch a swing is a snap. the key is in the contour of the seat. the difference between a comfy sit and a sit is the difference between joy and existance.

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  12. Well, it appears that – whaddyaknow? – the Tree Endeavor is one thing that went pretty much as planned. It’s clear that our more “far flung” Baboons who were not able to be there physically were there in spirit. It never ceases to amaze me what a motivated group of people can do.

    Steve – be sure to see Bill’s comment above.

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  13. BIR what a lovely porch! and a great series of pics showing progress. It looks as if it belongs there. And you are all moved in, by the looks of the white furniture inside. Perfect place to spend a mosquito free evening!

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    1. We attempted an evening bonfire with our next door neighbors last night. Despite having smeared ourselves liberally with mosquito repellent, we were driven indoors after about half an hour. I’m still itching! Sure could have used a screened in porch.

      Wore myself out rooting for Federer this morning, and then felt awful for Murray in his defeat; I was just too pooped to go to the book club (besides, I hadn’t read either book!). Had hoped to swing by Steve’s while I was in the neighborhood to see what was left of his tree escapade; just didn’t pan out as planned. I do hope to see pictures though.

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      1. i would have bet you were a murray fanthis match. him being the denmark doubles connection, but wasnt federer something?

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        1. No, no, no, tim. Andy Murray is not the same person as Jonathan Marray. Two different players but both from Great Britain.

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    2. Yes, Nan, a favorite thing is that it looks like it’s always been there, kind of organic.

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      1. that comes with using 30 year old boards to build it. it looks perfect. looking forward to bbc september 16th. i wonder if we can coerce renee into town?

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