In Praise of Porches

Dscn0035 From Mary Jo:

One of the signature features of newish American homes is the deck—a broad sweep of wood on which one can slap mosquitoes, dodge wasps, burn slabs of animal flesh over a grill, and wreck one’s skin.  From which description you may correctly deduce that I’m not a big fan of decks.  <g>

New_orleans_06_and_porch_040_6 When I moved into this house 13 years ago, it was in possession of a small deck that was a very nice staging area for my pots and pots of flowers.  I am by no means the gardener that Jo and Pat are, but I grew up on a farm and I take deep, rather mindless pleasure in watering my flowers and pinching off the dead blossoms and generally maintaining at least a minimal connection with nature. 

But in twelve years, I never, ever, actually sat on that deck.  Being right by trees, it had way too many bugs, and since I’m a pasty Anglo-Saxon who hates sitting in the sun, it was too hot for most of the summer.  (I have now reached the age where all that youthful sun-avoidance is paying off.  Who knew that not playing the “my tan is darker than your tan” game would have such benefits? <g>)

Since the original deck was in the process of slowly falling to pieces, I spent years trying to decide what to do about it.  A screened porch would be lovely—I adore sitting on a friend’s screened porch and admiring the squirrels and relaxing without bugs or sunburns.  But a screened porch would eliminate my summer flowers and winter birdfeeders. 

New_orleans_06_and_porch_046 Last summer, I finally figured out how to improve and upgrade my connection to the great outdoors: make it bigger.  Through pure luck, I found a fabulous remodeler who was looking for a smallish project to fill in some time, and he built me a small but beautiful screened porch with a narrow open deck extension just big enough for my flowers and birdfeeder.  Plus, he installed a window in the dining room so I could see my birds and flowers.   (What’s the point of flowers if you can’t see them???)

I adore my screened porch.  I bought some ultra comfortable chairs and added good lighting and whenever feasible, I like to sit out there with my Dana (the slightly more sophisticated sibling of Susan Miranda’s Alphasmart) and write.  Or maybe read research books after finishing the newspaper.  Without much editing capacity, the Dana is great for generating first draft material because it’s a simple beast that offers no distractions.  (E-mail is definitely the spawn of Satan in terms of distractions!) 

The ideal is what the SO calls “Goldilocks weather”—not too hot, not too cold, but juuuuuust right.  Naturally the weather doesn’t always cooperate, but with fleece throws stored in a porch cabinet and a ceiling fan, I can expand the acceptable temperature range quite a bit.

New_orleans_06_and_porch_048_1

But my lovely porch is by no means free of distractions.  My favorite are the rare hummingbirds who buzz by like hyperkinetic little green helicopters.  Very fond they are of my red and purple flowers.   Once I heard a slight sound and looked up to see a tiny goldfinch perched sideways on the screen about 18” above my head, its feathers lemon bright.  Most of the other birds are what they call “common birds”—robins, sparrows, maybe a cardinal or nuthatch—but that’s okay, I’m pretty common, too, and I love watching them darting and chattering in the white pines that almost touch the porch. 

Dscn0042_1 The sliding door to the living room has to be kept open six inches no matter what the heat so the cats can come and go.  Grady likes to sprawl on the table top, master of all he surveys.  Lacey slinks out like a furry serpent, her green eyes darting in all directions as she looks for threats.  They both go into a kind of holy trance when they see chipmunks, which the cats probably define as “lunch.”  <g>  They aren’t as interested in the squirrels, who must look too much like a fair fight. 

Interestingly, since I acquired my screened porch last summer, I find that many, many people really love screened porches, but most of the time, they don’t have one.  They have decks. <g>  A friend said she’d love a screened porch, but screening in part of her deck wouldn’t look good, so she’ll stick with her deck, which she never uses.  Me, I’ll go for comfort every time.

The writing life has its downsides, as all jobs do.  Cash flow can be grim, one works in a business that defines the term “thin ice,” and one spends most of one’s time either writing, thinking about writing, or feeling guilty about not writing.  <g>  But there are some really major pluses, too.  And one of them is being able to work on one’s porch.  New_orleans_06_and_porch_049_2

Mary Jo, who actually wrote this inside on her desktop because it’s HOT out there.

42 thoughts on “In Praise of Porches”

  1. From Sherrie:
    Mary Jo, loved loved loved your post about porches with all those wonderful pictures! My front “porch” (actually, a small deck) is my sanctuary. I planted an ivy screen along the porch railing for privacy, and the porch faces my pasture for that bucolic look.
    I spend a lot of time in the chaise longue on the front porch with my Alphasmart Neo, my iced tea, my two cats and dog, and classical music.
    I have a huge deck out back, and despite its size, I never use it, because the front porch is so much more inviting.
    My “office” is just two steps from the slider to the front porch, and in the summer the slider is always open. Your mention of hummingbirds reminded me of the time a darling hummingbird flew in through the slider, buzzing past me to hover in front of a huge picture of red poppies on the wall opposite my desk. He helicoptored around that picture, inspecting it critically before realizing those flowers weren’t real! He was too cute for words.
    Another time, a starling flew in through that same slider and zoomed past my ear to land on my computer monitor. It startled me so badly I let out a shriek, as the thing was only 24″ from my nose. The shriek in turn startled the bird and he flew back out the slider, but not before leaving a deposit on the monitor. Guess you could say I scared the (beep beep) out of him.
    Sherrie

    Reply
  2. From Sherrie:
    Mary Jo, loved loved loved your post about porches with all those wonderful pictures! My front “porch” (actually, a small deck) is my sanctuary. I planted an ivy screen along the porch railing for privacy, and the porch faces my pasture for that bucolic look.
    I spend a lot of time in the chaise longue on the front porch with my Alphasmart Neo, my iced tea, my two cats and dog, and classical music.
    I have a huge deck out back, and despite its size, I never use it, because the front porch is so much more inviting.
    My “office” is just two steps from the slider to the front porch, and in the summer the slider is always open. Your mention of hummingbirds reminded me of the time a darling hummingbird flew in through the slider, buzzing past me to hover in front of a huge picture of red poppies on the wall opposite my desk. He helicoptored around that picture, inspecting it critically before realizing those flowers weren’t real! He was too cute for words.
    Another time, a starling flew in through that same slider and zoomed past my ear to land on my computer monitor. It startled me so badly I let out a shriek, as the thing was only 24″ from my nose. The shriek in turn startled the bird and he flew back out the slider, but not before leaving a deposit on the monitor. Guess you could say I scared the (beep beep) out of him.
    Sherrie

    Reply
  3. From Sherrie:
    Mary Jo, loved loved loved your post about porches with all those wonderful pictures! My front “porch” (actually, a small deck) is my sanctuary. I planted an ivy screen along the porch railing for privacy, and the porch faces my pasture for that bucolic look.
    I spend a lot of time in the chaise longue on the front porch with my Alphasmart Neo, my iced tea, my two cats and dog, and classical music.
    I have a huge deck out back, and despite its size, I never use it, because the front porch is so much more inviting.
    My “office” is just two steps from the slider to the front porch, and in the summer the slider is always open. Your mention of hummingbirds reminded me of the time a darling hummingbird flew in through the slider, buzzing past me to hover in front of a huge picture of red poppies on the wall opposite my desk. He helicoptored around that picture, inspecting it critically before realizing those flowers weren’t real! He was too cute for words.
    Another time, a starling flew in through that same slider and zoomed past my ear to land on my computer monitor. It startled me so badly I let out a shriek, as the thing was only 24″ from my nose. The shriek in turn startled the bird and he flew back out the slider, but not before leaving a deposit on the monitor. Guess you could say I scared the (beep beep) out of him.
    Sherrie

    Reply
  4. from Susan/Sarah…
    Lovely post, Mary Jo!
    I’ve seen Mary Jo’s new screened porch and flower deck, and it’s a beautiful, peaceful place. It’s also perfect for quiet creative work. Lots of great writing gets done there!
    We have a big two-level deck out back, sunny on the upper, shady on the lower, and we often go out there to sit, talk, read, or watch the squirrels harass the dog (oops, I mean, watch the dog guard the yard)… but we never roast in the sun, since my Scotch/Irish skin has no ability to tan, and my Guys (four, dh and sons) could care less about deliberately sitting out to catch some rays (three of them are total blondes. Sun + blonde = owch).
    When temperature and humidity allow, I’ll take work or reading out there and sit on the shady side. The yard is big and private, lots of trees. The bugs aren’t too bad, and it’s pretty — just now the two cherry trees are loaded with fruit…we’ve picked buckets of cherries by now (and pretty soon I’ll have to sit down and pit those things and do something with them).
    But our pretty deck isn’t screened. And having been to Mary Jo’s paradise, I have a serious case of screened-porch envy.
    The creative energy there is phenomenal!
    It always comes back to the writing, doesn’t it! 😉
    ~Susan

    Reply
  5. from Susan/Sarah…
    Lovely post, Mary Jo!
    I’ve seen Mary Jo’s new screened porch and flower deck, and it’s a beautiful, peaceful place. It’s also perfect for quiet creative work. Lots of great writing gets done there!
    We have a big two-level deck out back, sunny on the upper, shady on the lower, and we often go out there to sit, talk, read, or watch the squirrels harass the dog (oops, I mean, watch the dog guard the yard)… but we never roast in the sun, since my Scotch/Irish skin has no ability to tan, and my Guys (four, dh and sons) could care less about deliberately sitting out to catch some rays (three of them are total blondes. Sun + blonde = owch).
    When temperature and humidity allow, I’ll take work or reading out there and sit on the shady side. The yard is big and private, lots of trees. The bugs aren’t too bad, and it’s pretty — just now the two cherry trees are loaded with fruit…we’ve picked buckets of cherries by now (and pretty soon I’ll have to sit down and pit those things and do something with them).
    But our pretty deck isn’t screened. And having been to Mary Jo’s paradise, I have a serious case of screened-porch envy.
    The creative energy there is phenomenal!
    It always comes back to the writing, doesn’t it! 😉
    ~Susan

    Reply
  6. from Susan/Sarah…
    Lovely post, Mary Jo!
    I’ve seen Mary Jo’s new screened porch and flower deck, and it’s a beautiful, peaceful place. It’s also perfect for quiet creative work. Lots of great writing gets done there!
    We have a big two-level deck out back, sunny on the upper, shady on the lower, and we often go out there to sit, talk, read, or watch the squirrels harass the dog (oops, I mean, watch the dog guard the yard)… but we never roast in the sun, since my Scotch/Irish skin has no ability to tan, and my Guys (four, dh and sons) could care less about deliberately sitting out to catch some rays (three of them are total blondes. Sun + blonde = owch).
    When temperature and humidity allow, I’ll take work or reading out there and sit on the shady side. The yard is big and private, lots of trees. The bugs aren’t too bad, and it’s pretty — just now the two cherry trees are loaded with fruit…we’ve picked buckets of cherries by now (and pretty soon I’ll have to sit down and pit those things and do something with them).
    But our pretty deck isn’t screened. And having been to Mary Jo’s paradise, I have a serious case of screened-porch envy.
    The creative energy there is phenomenal!
    It always comes back to the writing, doesn’t it! 😉
    ~Susan

    Reply
  7. I’m Southern to my marrow, so naturally I am a devotee of porches. I loved your blog, Mary Jo, and your porch sounds like an ideal writing and dreaming spot.
    A few years ago the University of North Carolina Press published a terrific book called Swinging in Place by Louisiana folklorist Jocelyn Hazelwood Donlon. It is a wonderful compiliation of oral history, folklore, literature, and photographs–all about the place of the porch in Southern culture. I recommend it highly.

    Reply
  8. I’m Southern to my marrow, so naturally I am a devotee of porches. I loved your blog, Mary Jo, and your porch sounds like an ideal writing and dreaming spot.
    A few years ago the University of North Carolina Press published a terrific book called Swinging in Place by Louisiana folklorist Jocelyn Hazelwood Donlon. It is a wonderful compiliation of oral history, folklore, literature, and photographs–all about the place of the porch in Southern culture. I recommend it highly.

    Reply
  9. I’m Southern to my marrow, so naturally I am a devotee of porches. I loved your blog, Mary Jo, and your porch sounds like an ideal writing and dreaming spot.
    A few years ago the University of North Carolina Press published a terrific book called Swinging in Place by Louisiana folklorist Jocelyn Hazelwood Donlon. It is a wonderful compiliation of oral history, folklore, literature, and photographs–all about the place of the porch in Southern culture. I recommend it highly.

    Reply
  10. MJ, your post is beautiful. As beautiful as your porch. Love the pictures. It is wonderful to see the space where TMS and the rest were birthed. I am so looking forward to your next book.
    Susan: I am loving THE SWORD MAIDEN. My dh happily slept with the light on last night while I savored every word between page 12 and 70.
    As for porches, I too have a porch. It’s 2’x4′ and hangs off the end of my tree house. In the dark of night I sit there and write, feet dangling part way down a green PVC sliding board, the eerie glow of an LCD screen illuminating my conniving grin. Every once in a while, I manage to freak myself out as my mind begins to play the ‘spooks coming out from under the bed’ reels of childhood in the background. (I have a very vivid imagination).
    MJ mentioned something at the end of her post that really hit home with me. In a few simple, honest words she shattered the romantic view I held of all the wonders of being a writer. For this, I am thankful. Because the mirror, the one she shattered with her soft words, was painted with a picture of a cunningly beautiful, wildly intelligent, well traveled woman that lived in a world where all of life was her stage and she wrote it as she saw fit. And everyone applauded. I could never be that woman. There isn’t enough time in my life to become wildly intelligent with hair long and beautiful and a face that glows with a youthfulness that defies my age. This morning, while standing there among the shards, I realized, with great clarity, I didn’t need to be that woman. I didn’t want to be that woman. She could never skate on thin ice or spend most of her time writing, or thinking about writing and feeling guilty when she was doing neither. But I have done all of those things already. In a former life. When I was a business woman, nurturing a long list of perspective clients.
    Thank you, MJ for your wonderful words. And, to all the other Word Wenches. You are a wonderful collective of richly creative minds who continue to teach this littlest wenchling. I see you as velvet rocks. You and your creative works are glorious, inviting, warm and true, supported by the rock solid knowledge that undressed, this is a business.
    Thanks, many times over.
    P.S. Perhaps the business side of writing could be a blog topic one day. Although I really want to know what it feels like to catch an arrow and the writerly ingredients required to create a Warrior poet.

    Reply
  11. MJ, your post is beautiful. As beautiful as your porch. Love the pictures. It is wonderful to see the space where TMS and the rest were birthed. I am so looking forward to your next book.
    Susan: I am loving THE SWORD MAIDEN. My dh happily slept with the light on last night while I savored every word between page 12 and 70.
    As for porches, I too have a porch. It’s 2’x4′ and hangs off the end of my tree house. In the dark of night I sit there and write, feet dangling part way down a green PVC sliding board, the eerie glow of an LCD screen illuminating my conniving grin. Every once in a while, I manage to freak myself out as my mind begins to play the ‘spooks coming out from under the bed’ reels of childhood in the background. (I have a very vivid imagination).
    MJ mentioned something at the end of her post that really hit home with me. In a few simple, honest words she shattered the romantic view I held of all the wonders of being a writer. For this, I am thankful. Because the mirror, the one she shattered with her soft words, was painted with a picture of a cunningly beautiful, wildly intelligent, well traveled woman that lived in a world where all of life was her stage and she wrote it as she saw fit. And everyone applauded. I could never be that woman. There isn’t enough time in my life to become wildly intelligent with hair long and beautiful and a face that glows with a youthfulness that defies my age. This morning, while standing there among the shards, I realized, with great clarity, I didn’t need to be that woman. I didn’t want to be that woman. She could never skate on thin ice or spend most of her time writing, or thinking about writing and feeling guilty when she was doing neither. But I have done all of those things already. In a former life. When I was a business woman, nurturing a long list of perspective clients.
    Thank you, MJ for your wonderful words. And, to all the other Word Wenches. You are a wonderful collective of richly creative minds who continue to teach this littlest wenchling. I see you as velvet rocks. You and your creative works are glorious, inviting, warm and true, supported by the rock solid knowledge that undressed, this is a business.
    Thanks, many times over.
    P.S. Perhaps the business side of writing could be a blog topic one day. Although I really want to know what it feels like to catch an arrow and the writerly ingredients required to create a Warrior poet.

    Reply
  12. MJ, your post is beautiful. As beautiful as your porch. Love the pictures. It is wonderful to see the space where TMS and the rest were birthed. I am so looking forward to your next book.
    Susan: I am loving THE SWORD MAIDEN. My dh happily slept with the light on last night while I savored every word between page 12 and 70.
    As for porches, I too have a porch. It’s 2’x4′ and hangs off the end of my tree house. In the dark of night I sit there and write, feet dangling part way down a green PVC sliding board, the eerie glow of an LCD screen illuminating my conniving grin. Every once in a while, I manage to freak myself out as my mind begins to play the ‘spooks coming out from under the bed’ reels of childhood in the background. (I have a very vivid imagination).
    MJ mentioned something at the end of her post that really hit home with me. In a few simple, honest words she shattered the romantic view I held of all the wonders of being a writer. For this, I am thankful. Because the mirror, the one she shattered with her soft words, was painted with a picture of a cunningly beautiful, wildly intelligent, well traveled woman that lived in a world where all of life was her stage and she wrote it as she saw fit. And everyone applauded. I could never be that woman. There isn’t enough time in my life to become wildly intelligent with hair long and beautiful and a face that glows with a youthfulness that defies my age. This morning, while standing there among the shards, I realized, with great clarity, I didn’t need to be that woman. I didn’t want to be that woman. She could never skate on thin ice or spend most of her time writing, or thinking about writing and feeling guilty when she was doing neither. But I have done all of those things already. In a former life. When I was a business woman, nurturing a long list of perspective clients.
    Thank you, MJ for your wonderful words. And, to all the other Word Wenches. You are a wonderful collective of richly creative minds who continue to teach this littlest wenchling. I see you as velvet rocks. You and your creative works are glorious, inviting, warm and true, supported by the rock solid knowledge that undressed, this is a business.
    Thanks, many times over.
    P.S. Perhaps the business side of writing could be a blog topic one day. Although I really want to know what it feels like to catch an arrow and the writerly ingredients required to create a Warrior poet.

    Reply
  13. Screened porches are heavenly! I’m the happy owner of 2.
    Our lake cottage, where I’m spending this week on writing retreat, is at least a hundred years old, and the porch has only one electrical socket. I hate faffing about with a laptop, which requires miles of extension cords…and gets warm. So I bought a Dana. I can also write down on the dock, by the water.
    At our other house, we did the same thing you did, a couple of years ago–with the rise in numbers of disease-bearing mosquitoes. (West Nile and Triple E alerts are now common at this time of year.)
    We doubled the floor space of a deck on the cooller, shadier side of the house overlooking the woods. In addition to screens, we included window inserts so we can use it for 3 seasons (sometimes 4, if the winter sun is bright enough.)
    Like you, I find the hummingbirds a distraction in summer, but a pleasant one. I no longer stop typing when they zip around the feeder.
    But when a deer shows up–that’s a major event!
    Happy writing on or off your porch!

    Reply
  14. Screened porches are heavenly! I’m the happy owner of 2.
    Our lake cottage, where I’m spending this week on writing retreat, is at least a hundred years old, and the porch has only one electrical socket. I hate faffing about with a laptop, which requires miles of extension cords…and gets warm. So I bought a Dana. I can also write down on the dock, by the water.
    At our other house, we did the same thing you did, a couple of years ago–with the rise in numbers of disease-bearing mosquitoes. (West Nile and Triple E alerts are now common at this time of year.)
    We doubled the floor space of a deck on the cooller, shadier side of the house overlooking the woods. In addition to screens, we included window inserts so we can use it for 3 seasons (sometimes 4, if the winter sun is bright enough.)
    Like you, I find the hummingbirds a distraction in summer, but a pleasant one. I no longer stop typing when they zip around the feeder.
    But when a deer shows up–that’s a major event!
    Happy writing on or off your porch!

    Reply
  15. Screened porches are heavenly! I’m the happy owner of 2.
    Our lake cottage, where I’m spending this week on writing retreat, is at least a hundred years old, and the porch has only one electrical socket. I hate faffing about with a laptop, which requires miles of extension cords…and gets warm. So I bought a Dana. I can also write down on the dock, by the water.
    At our other house, we did the same thing you did, a couple of years ago–with the rise in numbers of disease-bearing mosquitoes. (West Nile and Triple E alerts are now common at this time of year.)
    We doubled the floor space of a deck on the cooller, shadier side of the house overlooking the woods. In addition to screens, we included window inserts so we can use it for 3 seasons (sometimes 4, if the winter sun is bright enough.)
    Like you, I find the hummingbirds a distraction in summer, but a pleasant one. I no longer stop typing when they zip around the feeder.
    But when a deer shows up–that’s a major event!
    Happy writing on or off your porch!

    Reply
  16. We’ve had sunrooms and decks and currently have a courtyard, but we’ve never had the pleasure of a screened porch. I’m in serious porch envy.
    And Susan/Sarah didn’t mention that her sons are not only blond, but Vikings. They don’t belong in sun. One wonders how the ancient Vikings survived as they sailed further south.
    And deer are a major event, Margaret? Shall I send you a few of ours? They check out our birdfeeders, our hostas, and our vegetable garden on a daily basis. Watching the fawns playing is a delight, until I find my carefully tended gardens in shreds.
    Pat, sitting in front of her floor-to-ceiling windows in air conditioned splendor

    Reply
  17. We’ve had sunrooms and decks and currently have a courtyard, but we’ve never had the pleasure of a screened porch. I’m in serious porch envy.
    And Susan/Sarah didn’t mention that her sons are not only blond, but Vikings. They don’t belong in sun. One wonders how the ancient Vikings survived as they sailed further south.
    And deer are a major event, Margaret? Shall I send you a few of ours? They check out our birdfeeders, our hostas, and our vegetable garden on a daily basis. Watching the fawns playing is a delight, until I find my carefully tended gardens in shreds.
    Pat, sitting in front of her floor-to-ceiling windows in air conditioned splendor

    Reply
  18. We’ve had sunrooms and decks and currently have a courtyard, but we’ve never had the pleasure of a screened porch. I’m in serious porch envy.
    And Susan/Sarah didn’t mention that her sons are not only blond, but Vikings. They don’t belong in sun. One wonders how the ancient Vikings survived as they sailed further south.
    And deer are a major event, Margaret? Shall I send you a few of ours? They check out our birdfeeders, our hostas, and our vegetable garden on a daily basis. Watching the fawns playing is a delight, until I find my carefully tended gardens in shreds.
    Pat, sitting in front of her floor-to-ceiling windows in air conditioned splendor

    Reply
  19. Screened porches
    I grew up in a small rancher (5 rooms and a bathroom) with a carport. My grandmother, who raised me, built the porch up with 2 x 4’s and screened it in. That was before Home Depot!!! She laid a green outdoor rug (scratchy but bright) on the uneven and cracked concrete floor. She planted Begonias in black potting soil inside the deep dish of a terra cotta bird bath. Ceramic squirrels and birds were perched on the flat spaces. Hanging baskets of geraniums and impatiens dripped from overwatering, but thrived.
    Nylon banded aluminum lawn chairs creaked when she rocked in them. She played solitaire at a card table and sipped iced tea. She said things like: “The bluedy boos (bloody bus) is late,” on the last day of school, and “Don’t leave the screened door open or the dogs will come in and get the cat.”
    When I was very young I had a small plastic pool by the screen door. My grandmother turned it on its side when I was done and the water ran down the driveway.
    Until I learned better, I thought every screened porch was called a carport. I miss my screened-in carport… and my grandmother…
    I love your screened porch, Mary Jo, and the white pines.

    Reply
  20. Screened porches
    I grew up in a small rancher (5 rooms and a bathroom) with a carport. My grandmother, who raised me, built the porch up with 2 x 4’s and screened it in. That was before Home Depot!!! She laid a green outdoor rug (scratchy but bright) on the uneven and cracked concrete floor. She planted Begonias in black potting soil inside the deep dish of a terra cotta bird bath. Ceramic squirrels and birds were perched on the flat spaces. Hanging baskets of geraniums and impatiens dripped from overwatering, but thrived.
    Nylon banded aluminum lawn chairs creaked when she rocked in them. She played solitaire at a card table and sipped iced tea. She said things like: “The bluedy boos (bloody bus) is late,” on the last day of school, and “Don’t leave the screened door open or the dogs will come in and get the cat.”
    When I was very young I had a small plastic pool by the screen door. My grandmother turned it on its side when I was done and the water ran down the driveway.
    Until I learned better, I thought every screened porch was called a carport. I miss my screened-in carport… and my grandmother…
    I love your screened porch, Mary Jo, and the white pines.

    Reply
  21. Screened porches
    I grew up in a small rancher (5 rooms and a bathroom) with a carport. My grandmother, who raised me, built the porch up with 2 x 4’s and screened it in. That was before Home Depot!!! She laid a green outdoor rug (scratchy but bright) on the uneven and cracked concrete floor. She planted Begonias in black potting soil inside the deep dish of a terra cotta bird bath. Ceramic squirrels and birds were perched on the flat spaces. Hanging baskets of geraniums and impatiens dripped from overwatering, but thrived.
    Nylon banded aluminum lawn chairs creaked when she rocked in them. She played solitaire at a card table and sipped iced tea. She said things like: “The bluedy boos (bloody bus) is late,” on the last day of school, and “Don’t leave the screened door open or the dogs will come in and get the cat.”
    When I was very young I had a small plastic pool by the screen door. My grandmother turned it on its side when I was done and the water ran down the driveway.
    Until I learned better, I thought every screened porch was called a carport. I miss my screened-in carport… and my grandmother…
    I love your screened porch, Mary Jo, and the white pines.

    Reply
  22. The grey cat looks just like Shadow-cat, The Most Dangerous Cat in Glendale, who lives next door to me.
    My own two, Sethra the Fluffy Bimbo and Aliera the Beeping Alien (aka Cat and Other Cat) are currently enjoying 24-hour live entertainment, as an ENORMOUS pigeon has nested in the rafters of the deck roof outside my bedroom window. Only a pigeon would be dumb enough to lay eggs in 109-degree heat–they’ll be parboiled before they hatch.
    But hey! that’s OK; it’s not as if we needed more pigeons, is it?

    Reply
  23. The grey cat looks just like Shadow-cat, The Most Dangerous Cat in Glendale, who lives next door to me.
    My own two, Sethra the Fluffy Bimbo and Aliera the Beeping Alien (aka Cat and Other Cat) are currently enjoying 24-hour live entertainment, as an ENORMOUS pigeon has nested in the rafters of the deck roof outside my bedroom window. Only a pigeon would be dumb enough to lay eggs in 109-degree heat–they’ll be parboiled before they hatch.
    But hey! that’s OK; it’s not as if we needed more pigeons, is it?

    Reply
  24. The grey cat looks just like Shadow-cat, The Most Dangerous Cat in Glendale, who lives next door to me.
    My own two, Sethra the Fluffy Bimbo and Aliera the Beeping Alien (aka Cat and Other Cat) are currently enjoying 24-hour live entertainment, as an ENORMOUS pigeon has nested in the rafters of the deck roof outside my bedroom window. Only a pigeon would be dumb enough to lay eggs in 109-degree heat–they’ll be parboiled before they hatch.
    But hey! that’s OK; it’s not as if we needed more pigeons, is it?

    Reply
  25. From Mary Jo:
    I’m glad the post is reminding people of some many favorite porches. It’s very nice to enjoy nature with minimal irritations. 🙂
    Sherrie, LOL about your bird adventures! Only you could get a peevish hummingbird accusing you of bait and switch. 🙂
    Some locations probably don’t need the screening, but being close to trees and/or water, like my porch and Margaret’s, makes screening healthier. (Margaret, what is a triple E alert? I’d think you’d be vulnerable to Lyme, too.)
    Susan Sarah, I’ll bet it wouldn’t be too hard to screen in your lower porch. Just put those handsome Guys to work and it could be done in a weekend.
    Nature is wonderful to watch, even if it’s “common” and suburban. Tal, Grady may look like Shadow the Danger Cat, but trust me, he’s a real pussy cat. 🙂 A very sweet natured fellow.
    Nina, I really don’t know any writers with long, glorious hair and glamorous lives. We run more to hunched shoulders and the weight that comes with too much sitting and frequently a certain wild-eyed hysteria. 🙂 Still, we choose this fate willingly.
    Mary Jo, who had a nice porch sit after supper with newspaper, SO, coffee, and cats.

    Reply
  26. From Mary Jo:
    I’m glad the post is reminding people of some many favorite porches. It’s very nice to enjoy nature with minimal irritations. 🙂
    Sherrie, LOL about your bird adventures! Only you could get a peevish hummingbird accusing you of bait and switch. 🙂
    Some locations probably don’t need the screening, but being close to trees and/or water, like my porch and Margaret’s, makes screening healthier. (Margaret, what is a triple E alert? I’d think you’d be vulnerable to Lyme, too.)
    Susan Sarah, I’ll bet it wouldn’t be too hard to screen in your lower porch. Just put those handsome Guys to work and it could be done in a weekend.
    Nature is wonderful to watch, even if it’s “common” and suburban. Tal, Grady may look like Shadow the Danger Cat, but trust me, he’s a real pussy cat. 🙂 A very sweet natured fellow.
    Nina, I really don’t know any writers with long, glorious hair and glamorous lives. We run more to hunched shoulders and the weight that comes with too much sitting and frequently a certain wild-eyed hysteria. 🙂 Still, we choose this fate willingly.
    Mary Jo, who had a nice porch sit after supper with newspaper, SO, coffee, and cats.

    Reply
  27. From Mary Jo:
    I’m glad the post is reminding people of some many favorite porches. It’s very nice to enjoy nature with minimal irritations. 🙂
    Sherrie, LOL about your bird adventures! Only you could get a peevish hummingbird accusing you of bait and switch. 🙂
    Some locations probably don’t need the screening, but being close to trees and/or water, like my porch and Margaret’s, makes screening healthier. (Margaret, what is a triple E alert? I’d think you’d be vulnerable to Lyme, too.)
    Susan Sarah, I’ll bet it wouldn’t be too hard to screen in your lower porch. Just put those handsome Guys to work and it could be done in a weekend.
    Nature is wonderful to watch, even if it’s “common” and suburban. Tal, Grady may look like Shadow the Danger Cat, but trust me, he’s a real pussy cat. 🙂 A very sweet natured fellow.
    Nina, I really don’t know any writers with long, glorious hair and glamorous lives. We run more to hunched shoulders and the weight that comes with too much sitting and frequently a certain wild-eyed hysteria. 🙂 Still, we choose this fate willingly.
    Mary Jo, who had a nice porch sit after supper with newspaper, SO, coffee, and cats.

    Reply
  28. Mary Jo, Shadow is a very good-natured cat, too; he’s The Most Dangerous Cat in Glendale because of the way he blends into the rug in dark halls. He loves to pop into Bruce and Hilde’s room (he thinks they have the Holy Grail of kibble in there, even though it comes from the same bag as his); and Bruce is always tripping over him when he gets up in the night.
    Something completely different, but of considerable interest, at least to me: Over on the Running with Quills blog, Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick has posted a very good piece on dialogue vs. description, with some excellent comments by others. I posted a couple of my favorite descriptive passages, from a Kipling short story and Stephen Vincent Benet’s epic poem about the Civil War, JOHN BROWN’S BODY.

    Reply
  29. Mary Jo, Shadow is a very good-natured cat, too; he’s The Most Dangerous Cat in Glendale because of the way he blends into the rug in dark halls. He loves to pop into Bruce and Hilde’s room (he thinks they have the Holy Grail of kibble in there, even though it comes from the same bag as his); and Bruce is always tripping over him when he gets up in the night.
    Something completely different, but of considerable interest, at least to me: Over on the Running with Quills blog, Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick has posted a very good piece on dialogue vs. description, with some excellent comments by others. I posted a couple of my favorite descriptive passages, from a Kipling short story and Stephen Vincent Benet’s epic poem about the Civil War, JOHN BROWN’S BODY.

    Reply
  30. Mary Jo, Shadow is a very good-natured cat, too; he’s The Most Dangerous Cat in Glendale because of the way he blends into the rug in dark halls. He loves to pop into Bruce and Hilde’s room (he thinks they have the Holy Grail of kibble in there, even though it comes from the same bag as his); and Bruce is always tripping over him when he gets up in the night.
    Something completely different, but of considerable interest, at least to me: Over on the Running with Quills blog, Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick has posted a very good piece on dialogue vs. description, with some excellent comments by others. I posted a couple of my favorite descriptive passages, from a Kipling short story and Stephen Vincent Benet’s epic poem about the Civil War, JOHN BROWN’S BODY.

    Reply
  31. I want a screened porch!! At the risk of sounding like a spoilt child. What is the difference between a SPand an English conservatory? Here we hide from the African sun but I have a verandah that itches to be enclosed but the slope of the roof creates problems.
    I can vouch that Mary Jo has the most beautiful skin. It was probably the second thing I said to her when we met and Sherrie, only you could have a *run-in* with a bird!

    Reply
  32. I want a screened porch!! At the risk of sounding like a spoilt child. What is the difference between a SPand an English conservatory? Here we hide from the African sun but I have a verandah that itches to be enclosed but the slope of the roof creates problems.
    I can vouch that Mary Jo has the most beautiful skin. It was probably the second thing I said to her when we met and Sherrie, only you could have a *run-in* with a bird!

    Reply
  33. I want a screened porch!! At the risk of sounding like a spoilt child. What is the difference between a SPand an English conservatory? Here we hide from the African sun but I have a verandah that itches to be enclosed but the slope of the roof creates problems.
    I can vouch that Mary Jo has the most beautiful skin. It was probably the second thing I said to her when we met and Sherrie, only you could have a *run-in* with a bird!

    Reply

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