Wednesday, May 31, 2006


We got about an inch of rain yesterday in a quick afternoon shower. Today, we got two and a half inches in a long, drawn out afternoon of raining. Exquisite! The trees were calm as the rain stretched on and on. They were, is essence, soaking it all up. So was I and everything around me. There is hope for the plants and the planet after all, at least for the next few days.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Enjoying the evening

This evening I was able to enjoy the porch and the hummingbirds without planning, in the back of my mind, the next measurement, the next board I need. I just sat some and gardened some, drank some excellent coffee and watched the sprinkler. It's very dry and no rain in sight.

We matched a record high today of 97. It's forecast to be in the mid 90's all week with lows in the upper 60's. Ouch!

I have at least 2 male and 2 female ruby throated hummers who frequent my yard. The males seem a little shorter and thicker than the females who seem a little longer and sleeker. I watched earlier in the week as a male did his aerobic flight pattern for the female. I think it's a mating dance. I had read that and forgotten about it until I saw the dance. Perhaps the show I described earlier about the two males flying in and out of the redbud tree really involved only one bird, doing his dance. If so, he was flying through the tree, back and forth and looked like two different birds. Amazing.

I don't know that I could ever get to the point that the hummers are commonplace to me. I am able now to follow them from branch to branch because they tend to go to the same spots in the trees to perch and preen, always keeping an eye on the feeder in case another little bird tries to feed. Rarely do I see two birds on the feeder at the same time but today I saw that once. I couldn't tell if it was a male and a female or 2 females. I think it was the former. I can't imagine 2 males feeding at the same time. They are so stingy about the feeder!

Tomorrow I am going to start thinking about the porch roof. I have done a vague preliminary measurement and it looks like I can have a 7 foot high roof at the proch's edge by attaching the rafters to a header fastened to the house with lag screws right under where the house roof overhang is. I think the porch roof pitch will be enough and won't look too strange compared to the house roof pitch. The roof will definitely be a challenge. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Porch floor

It's all done except for the end board on the left. I'll finish that in a couple of days. Next come the stairs. I think it would look good and would add utility to the proch to have stairs all across the front. At parties, people could sit on them. Or I could put potted plants there. Plus the pets would love the stairs. Plus it would be a great place to sit and play guitar.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

new hummingbird experience

I sat on the porch watching the hummers -- two of them -- vie for the feeder. The one was flashing his ruby throat at me from tree to tree or even in mid-air. Then they seemed to be playing somewhat of a game in the redbud tree. One would be in the tree on one side and the other bird out from the tree in the air. The air one would fly into the tree on its side and the tree one would come out of the tree on the other. Then the new air one would fly into the tree on its side and the new tree one would fly out. This went on and on for at least 10 exchanges. It was like those things with the steel balls hanging on strings and when you raise one and let it hit the others, the one on the other side pops out and when it hits backs, the other side pops back out. Fascinating!!!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A new thought perspective

All that's left is to get more decking and finish the floor and put the steps on -- then, the roof. Eventually I plan to put railings up. Meanwhile, the thinking chair is facing in a new direction.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Screaming Toad saves the day

Kelly got here about 2:15. We talked about the plan, had coffee, talked and thought some more, batted around all the ideas about how to compensate for the measuring problem and finally came out with the simplest and best solution for the joists. What a great thinker! We headed for the lumber yard and brought home four 16 foot long 2x6s for the joists. She knew how to do the hangers and we got those puppies hung in an hour and a half! Thanks, Jel!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ready for joists (and rain)

Today was a hard-working day! I'm wiped out as I write but I'm so happy about the progress, I wanted to say something about it.

It's hard to tell in the photo but up against the house is a board. This is usually called the ledger board and is an integral part of the deck. In my case, however, because of the way my house was built, I didn't want to attach the ledger board to the house. I am instead using a board attached to the inside posts in that capacity. Still, I had to have a board up against the house to give support to the flooring so I spent a lot of time today figuring out how to make that board secure. I cut 4x4s to support the board and secured it in as many places as I could.

I also had to repair the siding under the door. I will use flashing to protect that in the future from water splashing on it which is what caused it to get rotten.

I spent the rest of the day pretty much attaching the header joists (the boards on the perimeter of the posts) and making then level. I had to make up how I leveled them because none of the books made any sense to me on that part. I think it turned out good!

Alas, I think I didn't allow for the width of the header joists )the boards around the perimeter of the structure) so my measurements are a little long. I'll figure someting out. That's what the thinking chair is for!

It's supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow -- maybe the rest of the week -- so I don't know what Kelly and I will get done on the porch tomorrow but we can always drink coffee and talk about the porch. That's almost as fun as building it.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Plans and materials

Today I spent some time talking to Ray, my neighbor, about how the porch is shaping up. I also sat in the thinking chair for quite a while, contemplating and going over the two books I have on building a porch/deck. Then I firmed up my idea for the joists and went to the hardware store. I got screws, new gloves and gorilla glue (just to have). I talked to the guy there about building decks. He gave me his 2 cents worth.
On the way to the lumber yard for the joists, I realized that each person and each book has its own ideas about how to do this thing. So from all my talking and reading and setting posts and whatever else is in my brain that allows me to move a concrete slab by myself, I became confident in my own plan.
I am going to have 2x6 joists hung on hangers 16" apart (unless I decide on 24" tomorrow). I'm going to use 5 decks screws on the header joists at the posts. I am treating the 8x16 foot deck as 2 8x8 decks and I am going to hang my joists and lay my flooring accordingly. I will probably use 2x6s for flooring.
Ray and I talked about the roof a bit and agreed that we could discuss that again when the deck is done. I will deal with the stairs when I get there and also the railings. For now, I am looking forward to having the deck done by Wednesday. Kelly is coming over to help me Wednesday afternoon.