My 8-year-old granddaughter, Kiera, and I recently attended the Wick Juniors Writing Club Summer Camp, where we “camped” in our local national park inside a lovely brick dormitory, complete with indoor plumbing — can I get a hell yeah! I stayed on as a parent chaperone, helping to keep an eye on 10 elementary-aged girls, who, on the first night, refused to sleep. Because, camp.
By the next morning, Kiera had made friends with the other girls, and she was no longer acting like my shadow. By afternoon, I got the feeling she didn’t want me around much. She now had the protection of an entire army of girls and didn’t need me anymore. My heart felt a little heavy, but I know how these things go. As long as she acknowledges me at our mealtimes together, I thought, I’ll be satisfied. By evening, I barely existed. I WAS the shadow.
The girls bunked on the second floor of our dormitory, and I bunked, gloriously alone, on the first floor. While that sleeping arrangement allowed me to steer clear of ghost chatter, pillow fights and flashlight wars, along with some serious stink bombs (who knew little girls could be so gassy?), it did little to minimize the constant thud of girls hitting the floor after jumping from the top bunks.
On the second night, the counselor and I agreed that we’d have none of that nonsense. So around 11:30, she went upstairs and declared lights out. “We have a mom downstairs who needs to sleep,” she explained, adding, “Actually, she’s a grandma.”
Then Kiera piped up. “Yeah, and she works really hard. She just built a deck.” The other girls made noises that sounded like a mix of approval and wonder — a grandma who can build a deck?
With Kiera’s words, I morphed into a real person again. I lay in my bunk, smiling.
Anyway, I may have helped my beloved build our deck, but neither of us can lay claim to building the lovely wooden ramp that extends from our front door to halfway to the driveway. After Mom moved in, we knew it would help her tremendously to have a ramp in the front, but we were hesitant to buy (or rent) an aluminum wheelchair ramp. For one, they’re not particularly cheap; and for two, we don’t love the look.
So we hired one of our contractors to build a wooden ramp, and he finished it in just a few weeks. He covered the existing front stoop, extending the porch by about a foot, and designed the ramp to follow the existing cement walkway. As you can imagine, the curve in the walkway required many tailor cuts.
For comparison’s sake, here’s a “before” photo:
Front of the house, before. As you can see, the bricks around the stoop were cracking and falling off, and the steps weren’t even a consistent height. Sections of the walkway had sunk and shifted, creating a potential fall hazard.
But here’s what we did do: We covered the rest of the cement walkway with pavers and added several rows of brick trim to widen it. (The bricks — we have tons — are from Poland. They’re smaller than ordinary bricks and have an attractive variation to their color.)
The work was painstaking and demanded a lot of stone cutting. (One saw was harmed in the making of this walkway.)
Ignore the giant mulch pile to the right. That area is “under construction.” While you’re at it, ignore the dying grass to the left.
We also installed solar-powered post caps along the ramp and solar-powered bricks along the path. While we don’t have a lot of faith in solar-powered gadgets, we’ve had good luck with these.
The one modification we will make is to raise the lower horizontal rails so that it’s easier to shovel snow off the ramp.
The porch and the front door threshold are practically even to ease the transition from indoors to out. It does make standing at the front door awkward, though. You feel like you are entering a gnome house!
Our new front porch, though still cozy, at least has some sittin’ room. The garden gnome, a gift from my childhood friend Vera, appears to be on guard duty, guarding his stubby door.
So dear readers, we really need to stain the porch and ramp, and I’m undecided about color, which is unusual. Typically, I can pick a color in a heartbeat. So I’m taking suggestions. Help me out here! What color has your vote??