Tuesday, May 25, 2010

They Come Not As Single Spies

You know it's been a busy weekend when getting back to work feels relaxing.... The walk this week was in Bear Brook State Park on Sunday. It was our warmest walking day yet. As we set off into the woods, I was reflecting that this year I've had spring all out of order. At home we're well into June, at least as far as the plants are concerned. Friday, four irises burst into bloom simultaneously, by Sunday there were dozens. The blue flags (which normally lag the other irises by at least a week) have started blooming as well. (You'll have to imagine a gorgeous photo of blue flags, here, since I forgot to go take one before it got dark.) The phlox and flowering almond bloomed before the last narcissus was gone by, and the impatiens bids fair to be in full bloom before the end of the month.

The state park is an hour or so north, and it seems to be a week or so behind Nashua. The leaves on the trees have mostly attained their full growth but haven't yet darkened to the hues of summer. Adolescent ferns are torn between reaching for the sky and spreading their leaves to drink in every drop of sunlight. Little streamlets have slowed from the rains of the summer and trickle over moss-covered rocks. And wildflowers appear here and there among the greenery. I was thrilled to spot a number of lady's slippers. They're a native member of the orchid family, slow to grow, and much over-collected. They're on the endangered species list in NH, as they are in many of the places they grow. Hiking in my youth, we always looked for them, and seldom found any. This is the first time ever I've seen them growing in profusion.
lady's slipper, courtesy Wikimedia Commons
This image is not mine, it's a public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

Of course, warm windless conditions through damp areas are the perfect breeding ground for mosquitos. We were wearing insect repellent, and I had the added benefit of having my husband as bait (mosquitoes adore him, he must be extremely tasty). Mostly, they were deterred by the repellent, but every so often one would ignore our stench and try for a meal anyway. I'm happy to report that reflexes honed by years of Girl Scout Camp are still with me- not many survived the attempt.

Saturday was a designated 'home maintenance day'. We wanted to get the pool open, but the first order of business was to (literally) clear the deck. See, when I bought my house, it had this kind of bar-thing built into a corner of the deck, which my husband and I referred to as 'the cabana'. I'm told the prior owners used to have big parties and used it as the bar. We have our own share of big parties, but generally we consider a lot of alcohol is consumed if someone brings a six-pack. It's not that we object to alcohol- I quite like it now and then. It just happens that most of our friends prefer soft drinks. On those occasions we've had it- almost no one drinks it. So the cabana has never been used much. And it also had several problems.

a) The canopy came down too low in the front. We know this from all the guests who would leave our parties with a bruise in the middle of their forehead.

b) It shades some of the deck, causing a lot of green slimy crap to grow there, and also obstructs efforts to sweep leaves and acorns off.

c) The top surface was originally varnished, and has been becoming increasingly warped and peeling. Serious maintenance would be needed if we planned to keep it.

So, a few weeks ago, in the freakish early May 90 degree heat (seriously, what was with that?) I got a sudden fit of ambition, took out my hammer and crowbar, and started demolishing the darn thing. You know those days where you start sweeping and stop to pick something up and put it away, and while you're doing that you remember you wanted to wash the mirror in the bathroom, and then you get distracted by something else, and next thing you know, it's hours later and you haven't finished sweeping? It was kind of like that.

I resumed the project off and on over the next couple of weeks. It took longer than it should have thanks to the builder, who saw no reason to use one nail if he could drive six or seven instead. And this is the same guy who used nails (many of which aren't even galvanized) to put together the deck instead of deck screws (with the result that many of the nails are backing out, to the detriment of people who trod on them in bare feet). This house is full of really odd DIY choices, that’s all I can say. Some are just weird, others I’ve gone to considerable trouble to change over to something more standard (not to mention safer). But eventually, at the end of last week, I finally got it all down:
former cabana

Note the signal absence of cabana. So, the first order of business was to cut the pieces down enough to go in the back of my station wagon and haul them off to the dump. Then the ritual hauling-of-pool-crap-out-of-the-basement. Then the crawling around under the deck cursing while putting it all together. My adorable, handsome and altogether charming spouse took on that job this year. If I wasn't already married to him, I'd marry him. Also, his manly thews did a rather better job than I usually do at getting joints tight. Which is not to say things aren't still leaking, but we're still further along than I expected to be at this point. And given that we're getting more hot sticky weather this week, the idea of getting the pool open is actually pretty appealing. No doubt we'll finish just in time for another cold snap!

Now if I could just find a fiber that resists chlorine...

1 comment:

  1. "Manly thews" is such an evocative phrase. Sounds positively steamy. (You go, girl!)

    As for that chlorine-resistant fiber, lemme know if you find one.