Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Painted Porch

Some of my favorite childhood memories are swinging with Mammy on her front porch swing after she moved from Oxford to Senatobia. From the age of four on, most of our visits with Mammy took place on the porch where we'd snack on cheese wafers or oatmeal cookies, play Go Fish and Old Maid and listen to her tell stories about our dad and uncle and their cousins.  Mrs. Veazey, my friend Elise's grandmother, (recently featured on the Today Show for turning 105!) tells me she and Mammy had lots of fun having a "toddy" on the front porch in the afternoons and discussing their families. I'm sure it was nothing but praise.

So, anyway, since we moved in four years ago, I've wanted to paint our front porch ceiling blue and get a swing. We love sitting out on the porch in the evenings to watch all the active Belhaven population pass by running or biking or something strenuous like that. Somehow, the cheese and wine taste even better when you're seeing other people sweat. And since DeeDee and I initiated W.A.W.O.W. (walking and wine on Wednesdays), painting the porch ceiling jumped to the top of my priority list.

We don't have a swing yet, but we now have the perfect blue ceiling for porch sitting. Some people say blue ceilings keep away mosquitoes or wasps because they think it's the sky. Others say it keeps away haints for the same reason. I can testify that it doesn't keep away mosquitoes. I'm not yet sure about the haints - we do seem to have a friendly ghost that we like to blame things on so I hope he stays on!

Step One: Clean 80 years worth of dust, dirt and dead bugs off the ceiling.

It's also very important to make sure all the locks "lock" into place on the ladder, or else one of the legs could fold up under you. And you may just feel like a cartoon character when the ladder slides down into itself. Lesson learned.

Notice the dark rim of almost brown looking trim on the rim in the first photo. That was dirt. And grime and bugs and only the Lord knows what else. I wiped down the whole ceiling and edges with a Clorox and water mixture. Also, notice how it's bright and sunny in the first photo and nearly dark in the second. The cleaning was the hardest part!

Step two: Paint coat number one. 

I let the porch dry overnight and painted coat #1 on the ceiling before church on Sunday morning. I'm not a big fan of working hard in the heat. It's just not natural. I found a drop cloth was very important for not getting paint all over the floor. The best tool for getting the edges turned out to be a little flat, rectangle brush with rollers along the edge (I had one leftover from painting the kitchen last year).  I used an angled brush to try and get in the cracks along the ceiling.

Step three: Paint coat number two.
This was the easiest part, but I was so tired of climbing up and down the blasted ladder! I rolled vertically with the first coat and then horizontally with the second coat and that seemed to work well in filling in between the boards.

Hopefully, we'll get a swing put up before the wonderful fall weather gets here! Although, since dove season starts this weekend and is closely followed by duck season, I may have missed my opportunity for honey-do projects for the year. 

Read this great story from NPR on porches: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5645263. I love what one listener from Rhode Island wrote in: The porch is alternative theater. At this theater, the audience sits upon the stage… Here's another thought: The porch is the only room in the house from which it is socially acceptable to spy on one's neighbors. Oddly enough, it is the only room in the house where you're most likely to be seen doing it. This last paragraph is dedicated to Jenna Lee and family :)

Mammy and me on her front porch. Sis is in the background - I think that's Net's hand over her shoulder. The back of the photo shows it was developed in July of 1995.


Ashley said...

Love the paining of the WHRR. Who did it? Love the old picture!! Love the post. You are such a great Southern writer, Kara! So well done. Some day they will be putting a sign in front of the WHRR just like Eudora Welty's, saying "Kara Paulk lived here"! Love you!

Kara Givens Paulk said...

You're a hoot! The painting was done by Debbie Bernet for the previous owners of the house (her newphew). Miss all the Franzs:)

Becca said...

Love to see a little coast anywhere I go. And, a blue top porch is certainly a hint of coast! Love it!

Kara Givens Paulk said...

Adding this from Nancy Albritton from Facebook:

Nancy Campbell Albritton - How very wonderful! I adored Aunt Vera! One of my favorite memories is of being on her porch with you and Julia, Baby Sis, and my girls. I have photos from that summer in 1992 with you, Julia, Anne Elizabeth and Rebecca sitting in the swing looking VERY kin to each other. Love ya'll. Love your blog.

Signy said...

I love it! Glad you didn't break your neck doing it! I want to have a cup of tea on that porch this fall!