The Last Really Good Shack -31

I’ve been thinking about the porch alot lately. Probably the time of year – in the late summer and fall, we were on the porch from morning til night. It was where we had coffee in the mornings, entertained ourselves during the day, and ate most of our meals. The porch was comfortable in the best possible way. But that didn’t happen until my mom gave us the old rattan furniture from her den.
Mom downsized and moved to a condo in NW Arkansas about a year after Dad died. It was a spacious 2 bedroom, but had only one living room. So the rattan had to go.
This was a set that my folks had bought at an estate sale in northern New Jersey when they lived there in the late 70’s. Their home was a little – and I mean tiny – bungalow across the road from Lake Mohawk, a community of folks from all over the country that worked in New York City for various companies.
To add to the living space in this tiny charmer, my folks had a large deck and screened porch built on the front and side of the house. As Mom went about looking for ways to furnish the space, this estate sale was just the thing.
She purchased a three cushion sofa, two occasional chairs, a recliner with ottoman, two side tables, glass coffee table with two nesting tables, a floor lamp and two side lamps all for $150.00!
So this was now our porch furniture. It was tucked back under the eaves, safe from any storms. Mom and I made slip covers for all the cushions, using gray and white pillow ticking. I indulged in lots of flowered pillows and cute accessories. We had oil lamps to light and brighten the evenings, knitted throws to keep off the early morning chill, magazines and books piled on the tables to keep us company in the afternoons.
Bob came home with an old wooden kitchen table, the kind with the folded down leaves, like wings. And two old wooden kitchen chairs that had seen better days. They were held together with baling wire and ten penny nails, but the seats were smooth from years of use, so now our al fresco meals had a home.
Many treasures, beautiful pebbles and stones, acorns, wildflowers, bits of glass and marbles made a changing display on the tables. When the kids were visiting, there was plenty of room for coloring books or games. And always – ALWAYS – there were bottles of bubble blowing soap and wands. (I will dig out those old photos of the kids with the bubbles and add them to this post.)
This porch was a source of comfort and peace, entertainment and laughter. Everyone who spent time on this porch remembers the feeling of contentment. It was a singular place.
I think back to that porch often and the hours spent watching the wind in the trees, or the deer walking through the yard, or the daffodils blooming in the sun of late winter.

It was a place of rest and a place of peace. And a place that was my heart.

Until next time…….

The Last Really Good Shack 30

For those who have just recently found this blog – welcome and thanks for dropping by!

To catch anyone up who needs catching up – this is the story of an old house in rural Benton County, Arkansas, that my husband and I lived in for ten years – 1992-2002. The house was built in the 1880s and sat on 7 acres. We paid $35,000 for it. And most people who saw it at the time, thought we had lost our minds!

You can find the previous posts by going to the Home page and the category drop down thingy will be on the right hand side of the blog (over there >>>>) Find the category ‘The Last Really Good Shack’. These are all the posts about the shack, just in case you are interested in our adventures and misadventures.

Now, back to The Last Really Good Shack.

We had built the foundation and deck to the porch when we stopped work for a number of reasons. Money being one, winter another and my dad’s health was the most pressing. He had surgery in Dallas that Thanksgiving holiday. It was during a horrible ice storm and my husband was the only driver my mom and I trusted. So, bless his heart, he drove in just awful conditions back and forth from my brother’s house in Arlington to the hospital in Dallas.
Once Dad was sent home, most of our weekends were spent in Texas with him and Mom. Not much time for working on anything. As his condition worsened, I stayed and Bob went back home to work and take care of the dogs.
This was when the porch was finished.
Bob completed the entire thing by himself, rafters and all. He measured out the header onto the house where the rafters would be placed and then wedged the 2×12 at the proper height with a 2×4 and the ladder, then bolted the board onto the house. He attached all the posts and cross beams on the ends and spaced the rafters, wedged them up on one side and screwed the other end, then the other side the same way. Once he had all the rafters in place, he used galvanized tin roofing (like you see on barns and sheds) to cover the porch. The railings were put in place and (Ta Daaa) we had a huge covered porch. The final dimensions were 36’x9’.
It was just an enormous space looking down the front yard and across the creek bed and to the twin ridge to the west.

I know that he was there by himself and had time to do all this. But I really believe that he thought if he could just get it finished, Dad would be able to come and sit on that porch.

It didn’t happen that way. Daddy died in April.

But the porch became a place of rest and peace and love and joy for my Mom and all my family, for friends and acquaintances. I always said it was the bellybutton of the universe, where all peace was found.

Even now, anyone you talk to about the old Shack, one of the first things out of their mouths is ‘That was a great porch!’ And it was.

Until next time, my friends……

The Last Really Good Shack 28

We knew from the beginning that we wanted a porch. The house looked spare and homely without one, and we needed the extra living space. So for about a year, maybe a little more, we used the stacked cement blocks as our steps up into the front door. Old aluminum yard chairs were hauled out of the shed when we wanted to sit out. But with no patio or landscaping, it was just basically sitting out in the yard.
Then one afternoon, an old friend of Bob’s family called. He had recently moved to east Texas and wanted us to come for a visit. So we packed up for a long weekend and took off for Hughes Springs, TX.
Harold has a lovely home, looking out on to pasture land. A comfortable house with a covered porch in back, its a wonderful place for him and for his dog.
We brought with us pictures of the house as well as our dreams of our future there. And the subject of building the porch came up. Well, Harold had just the thing for us.
A friend of his bought old railroad container cars, which he would sell for scrap or to people who needed really odd, large storage containers. And the floors of these cars just happened to be tongue in groove 1 ft by 9 ft solid oak! And he would sell us a cars worth of the flooring, which happened to be just about the length of our house and the width of our front space. Eureka! The beginning of our porch!
We made the deal and Bob made plans to come back with a flatbed trailer to cart the floor back home.
Our first priority became building the under structure for the floor of the porch. Because of the lay of the land and the height of the second floor windows, we had to be sure we had head room and enough slope for the roof. After much measuring and leveling, Bob began work on the foundation and I became the helper again, toting and carrying and running to the hardware store and cleaning up.
So in the autumn of our second year, Bob finished the floor of our porch. It was solid! The floor boards were stained gray and they were gorgeous! We still brought out the old aluminum chairs to sit on the deck that fall and winter. And my Dad, in his last trip to the shack, was able to sit out in the warm October sun and enjoy the view.
It would be after he died that the porch would be finished. And it became the gathering and healing place for me, my family and especially my Mom.
This porch became the center of our home. There are so many more stories to tell about the porch and the shack and our adventures.
So until then……

This is a pen and ink by my beautiful and talented aunt, Carol Allen.