Porch promises

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Kym Seabolt's porch

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that Mr. Wonderful noticed the porch was sinking. OK, that sounds dramatic. It’s just one corner of the porch — maybe two tops. This past weekend, Mr. Wonderful’s father, Wonderful Sr., came over to take a look at “what we might be getting into.” His verdict: an awful lot.

Apparently the old columns have got to go. There are eight of them. They span two sides of the house. The wraparound porch is what helped sell me on the place. I’m basically a sucker for good “bones” and “character.” I’d buy a clump of dirt and a tin can if they came together in an interesting way. I own it.

Looking right

Now I’m all worried — not that the porch will collapse, which is likely and something normal characters would concern themselves with. No, I am concerned that the replacement columns won’t “look right.” I am always stuck between the perfect historical restoration I want to do, and the type my budget actually allows me to do.

The former is what you see on programs like This Old House or Fixer Upper (minus Chip swinging a sledgehammer around all willy nilly since I actually like walls). The latter is what you find at big box stores and online sites like Columns 4 Less. I just made that up, but it probably does exist.

So I just had my entire house looking neat if I do say so myself. Shrubs a fluffy, deep green. Paint touched up. Shutters crisp and fresh painted as well. New lighting installed. I mean I’m not saying Better Homes and Gardens was beating down our door to do a photoshoot, but I’m not saying they weren’t either. OK, they weren’t.

Still, I was not embarrassed when people — OK, Amazon delivery drivers — stopped by. One of those drivers even complimented my porch glider once! That was a big day!  So, anyway, back to the porch.

Needs attention

My old policy of ignoring the problem and allowing an overgrown bush to hide the issue is no longer working. Primarily because Mr. Wonderful took out the bush. Sometimes he really fails to see my vision. Now that he knows there is a problem, he wants to fix said problem. He intends to remove all the old columns and replace them with new. We will also be “shoring up” the porch foundation. Doesn’t that sound fun? Yes, well, do not be fooled friends. It has nothing to do with the beach or ocean. It just means we are going to have to fix things.

In the two decades we have been working on this house, we have amassed quite a selection of tools. We have lost our fair share too. I am still annoyed about a set of hole saws we purchased — and immediately misplaced forever — in 1997. I’m pretty sure we accidentally threw them away. Fortunately, I don’t think we need those for this project.

We can probably use one of the many tools in the arsenal we have built. As far as I know, we can cut, saw, shim, miter, polish, grind, weld — heck, we can plasma cut! What we don’t do is much wood turning. Apparently that is what is needed to make your own columns just like they did in or around 1904.

Precious

So … we will be column shopping. I am going to try Amazon first. They have everything else.  This porch is precious to me, and I will be picky about how it looks. It literally makes the look of the house.

It is also where we spent endless summer afternoons curled up in wicker chairs while popsicles dripped onto the floor. It is where we stepped out on wintry days to yell for others to come in for hot cocoa after sledding. It is where more than once my son said, “Come watch the storm with me, mom?” I’m so glad I did.

Boywonder has spent many nights out there on the hammock. Just recently, GirlWonder’s boyfriend napped there one afternoon, too. That’s when you know you’re a member of Team Seabolt: hammock privileges.

This is one project I am going to allow Mr. Wonderful and his dad to oversee. I just hope to come out someday and see columns that look exactly like the old ones holding up my porch for the next 120 years.  We are just one of the many families to live and learn on this porch, and with any luck, we won’t be the last.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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