Six-pack slabs

You know how to estimate the duration of a project, right? Take your best guess and triple it! (Some would say quadruple it.) All too quickly, Eric came to the end of his week off, during which he thought he’d get most of the new side porch constructed. Are you surprised to learn that it’s NOT happening quite that way? Eric told me a tale of when he dropped by his parents’ house years ago and found his dad laboriously hauling concrete blocks in the yard, lamenting that he just couldn’t carry as much as he used to. Eric is now the same age his dad was then, and he’s singing the same lament. The demolition that he thought would take one day took all of Labor Day weekend. Prepping the site (regrading, tamping the soil, washing the siding) and running around town rounding up lumber took another couple of days. And, we took one day off to drive up to Whidbey Island. You can’t just work every day and not have any fun!

porch with moldy siding

So much for the disclaimer … what did we actually accomplish that week? It gives me the creeps to think about it! With the shrubs out of the way, it was demo time. Eric thought the porch was so rickety that he could knock it down with a swift kick … but it wasn’t as simple as that. It was rotten, all right … he couldn’t just grab it and yank. Chunks kept coming off in his hands. Not much structural integrity left!

rotten support post

Did I help? Well … I was sort of the safety inspector, reminding Eric to put the spider-deflecting rubber bands around his pant legs and wear his safety glasses. I handed him the can of Raid.

Once the siding was off, we could peek inside. OMG, the spiders!!

huge spider web

We could see hobo spider funnel webs in the cracked concrete planter and on the ground, and plenty of large spiders just hangin’ out. Eric said not all of them were hobos, but I didn’t get close enough to confirm that. I have researched hobo spiders on the internet, but I will spare you from seeing a real close-up here. You can look them up yourself if you’re itchin’ to know!

Notice the funnel-shaped web in the crack. Keep body parts away from funnel webs!

hobo spider and web

We declared war. I warned Eric that his karma was sure to take a hit for killing a bunch of spiders, but he felt revenge was justified after suffering through the hobo bite the previous week. We discovered something better—and safer—than Raid. Next time you really want to kill bugs but not your kids or pets, try Hot Shot. It’s made of lemon grass oil and it kills pests dead (wait—isn’t that the Raid slogan?), while leaving your garden smelling lemony-fresh. How can you beat that?

Enough with the spiders—how do you feel about ants? We found lots of ant tunnels chewed through the wood, along with whatever comes out the other end of the ant. Can you see the queen ant? She’s the big mama in the upper left (about 3/4 of an inch long in real life), with the white spot at her head. What is that white spot? Food? An egg sack?

queen ant

And what Pacific Northwest outdoor project would be complete without slugs and sow bugs?

slugs and sow bugs

Have you had enough? I sure have! Cats, though … a few bugs and spiders don’t faze them. Dash and Ditto Morse came by to inspect what remained of the porch they sometimes hid under.

Tabby cat Dash Morse

cats Dash and Ditto under the porch

With a few more whacks of the mattock and a little help from the chain saw, the old porch gradually disappeared.

porch with corner posts gone

Eric with sledge hammer

 no more porch

After another thorough spraying with Hot Shot (we had a very lemony yard by then), Eric began smashing the concrete planter. It came willingly enough, but he had to carry about 1500 pounds of busted up concrete blocks to the curb. Then he had to lift them into the trailer, and out of the trailer at the recycler’s.

concrete blocks stacked by curb

Normally I’d help with this … but there might have been spiders on those bricks. Seriously.

The dirt had been in that planter for so many years it could stand on its own.

planter dirt still in place

As he dug out the last few bricks, Eric discovered a row of concrete slabs beneath where the bricks had been. He painstakingly dug them up, too. Six of them will be reused as footings for the new porch. We don’t know why they were in the ground. They appear to be sections of an old, narrow sidewalk that may have been put in after the original porch was removed. Or an old sidewalk might have been broken up to serve as footings for the porch … we’ll never know. The slabs ain’t talkin’.

six concrete slabs

Peggy Sue appreciated the custom cat box that Eric created just for her.

Tabby cat in a hole

Materials for new construction began showing up. I can’t wait to see the new porch take shape. I hope to be more helpful now that the creepy-crawlies are gone. I don’t want to wear Eric out … there’s too much that needs doin’ around this old house!

construction materials on the lawn 19132013new





12 thoughts on “Six-pack slabs

  1. Anita

    wow….I’ve never itched so much while reading your blog! I felt sort of sorry for all those bugs that have lived there so long but I know it’s best they are gone. Without their homes, they might have come inside yours!! YUK!!!

  2. Karen B.

    I hate surprises, especially in the form of creepy crawly critters. I know the porch is going to look great. The spiders didn’t creep me out as much as the queen ant. Yuck. We’ve been battling ants this summer. I’m certain it’s due to our drought and I normally have a live and let live attitude about them as long as they remain outdoors. This year they are sending scouts indoors who wander around hoping you’ll leave a crumb on the counter!
    Your projects are always ambitious but they always pay off big time in the beauty they produce.

  3. Jo

    The thing on the queen’s head must have been a crown otherwise how would the other ants know who is queen. Ick! Jo @ Let’s Face the Music


Don't be shy! Leave a comment--I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s