Two days before July 6th, J and I celebrated Independence Day at a small farm owned by one of her old friends. After some patriotic snacks, swimming, and spirited games of field volleyball, a trailer’s worth of fireworks was towed into place by an ATV. The mortar fireworks rivaled those of a small town and could have blown arms and heads off if pointed in the wrong direction. Instead, the crowd was eaten alive by mosquitoes.
Manchild of the corn.
My patriotism continued with a visit to the state capitol. We also started seeing a flock of wild turkeys wandering around our yard.
Pork platter with sauce splatter.
House of Representatives.
Our neighborhood turkeys.
In mid-July, we met J’s family south of Nashville for a reunion. Our base was two rental houses on a quaint street in the equally quaint town of Leiper’s Fork. I designed our shirts in the “hipster logo” style and had them printed at a neighborhood charity.
The highlights of the trip included high-powered air conditioning, a group kayaking trip, a tour of the Jack Daniel distillery, and trying to conquer my fear of heights at a multi-story ropes course.
Greek salad from the garden.
Our largest haul of home grown tomatoes.
Small Town, USA.
The American Dream.
A kayaking family.
A shady lunch spot.
Lovingly restored theater.
Life finds a way.
The charcoal making area.
The source of all Jack Daniel water.
The main buildings.
Inside the barrel and tasting room.
So many terrifying levels.
Nieces and nephew.
My nieces and nephews were addicted to the mobile version of Minecraft. I purchased my own copy and enjoyed exploring and building in our shared worlds. I don’t think the other adults understood the appeal of that game, nor were enthusiastic about everyone sitting around with their faces in screens. But to me, it was like playing together with Lego bricks on an infinitely large table.
At the end of July, J and I bought a power multi-tool to repair some rotten wood at the base of our garage doors. It didn’t turn out perfectly, but was still a success.
At the start of August, handymen started demolishing our front porch. Our original plan was to replace the rotted turned columns and save money by reusing the rails.
But as demo continued, it became apparent that more wood would would need to be replaced above the columns. And since the fascia was coming down, so did the front gutter.
I was working at home during the construction, and it stressed me out. I wasn’t sure if I could trust our handyman, so I was super skeptical of everything he said and super thorough with getting estimates and records of cutting checks. He was more casual about everything.
Wes Anderson style mole negro.
Door frame repair.
Goodbye old fan.
Goodbye old porch.
The point of no return.
The new columns were up a week later and looked great supporting our cedar ceiling. Reusing our old rails was out of the question as they looked horrible. J and I almost decided to have our handyman build a new set, but the weekend before he was supposed to start we told him we wanted to try building them ourselves.
The numbers made sense too. For what it would cost to hire someone to make the rails, we could make the rails, buy all the materials and power tools we needed, and still save some money.
J drafted the plans. We borrowed a truck to pick up the lumber and equipment. Our tools included a power sander, miter saw, stud finder, cordless brad nailer, router, clamps. J’s dad lent us an old table saw that we were able to get cutting safety with a new belt and blade.
Our first task was doing all the finish calking and painting on the handyman’s work. That took one weekend. During the week, I sealed the cedar ceiling and patched the concrete on the porch floor. While a handyman installed some new gutters, I finished up on the exterior painting and repainted the porch floor.
The rails took over a month of working weekends to finish. We had a lot of balusters to cut, paint, and assemble. We had rip wood to size on the table saw, router the top rails, put everything together, then seal and paint. I hate balusters now.
We spend another weekend figuring out how to install the porch swing and ceiling fan. Our wiring isn’t to code, but should be fine for now.
Calking and trimming.
I never thought I would have my own workshop.
Brad nailing ballisters.
A finished section of porch rail. I love the sealed cedar.
In September, another weekend was spent installing a single stair rail. Epoxy was used to fill the old bolt holes that had blown out of the concrete stairs, and the new bolts were carefully fused into place. Our rail is rock solid, but we still need to buy wood to finish the second one.
We love our porch now and have enjoyed sitting out there at any opportunity. The gleaming new surfaces make the rest of our house look like a shriveled old hag.
A finished porch!
My father came to visit, and Nashville made a good impression. The weather was cool enough for the first fire of the season.
I bought an Apple Watch and scratched the face on the second day.
Old firehouse downtown.
Our first potatoes.
Could use a few more crosses.
The sickly smell of electrical fires.
Beauty and the what?!
Into the woods.
Head tall thistles.
Thistle and butterfly.
Making Thai food.
The Gulch at night.
Dad takes flight.
The first fire of the season.
Fight for your right to sabotage.
Into the Woods II.
Our first home grown sweet potato.
Last weekend, J and I attended a work-related redneck-themed party at the Durham Town off-road park in the woods southeast of Atlanta.
Miles of dusty trails snaked through the woods. Our rides were paid for. First we tried ATVS, but J was scared of dying. I went out again on my own and hauled ass, actually getting airborne on a few moguls.
Next we hopped into a Polaris side by side. With a roll cage, I was emboldened to go faster, catch more air and drift. For two hours, I barreled through the woods.
It was an amazingly fun thing. Thirty five miles per hour might not feel fast in a car, but when there are trees whizzing by with only a couple feet of clearance as you are flying into the air, it feels much faster. Then J pointed out that I had been in low gear the whole time. I switched it into high gear, and our experience followed suit.
Reliving the past.
J Dawg the Offroad Hog.
Beautiful scenery to fly between.
I think I found a new favorite hobby.
Path by a track.
Bonfire and college football.
Seriously, these things rock.
It started raining as we returned to the party. I wiped red dirt from my face and sat down to mingle, drink, and eat barbecue.
The following day, we took the scenic route home to enjoy the fall foliage.
Abandoned Georgia mansion just waiting for a zombie showdown.
Bend in the yellow.
Fly fishing stream.
A last view of the hills.
I’m living the redneck dream.