Sippican Cottage

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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Hey, Whaddabout That Porch?

Well, we certainly detailed our kitchen remodel to a fare-thee-well. But we kinda glossed over the porch just outside the kitchen door. So before anybody calls me on it, I’ll show you what we did out there.

The porch used to be connected by a catwalk to the front of the house. It collapsed long before we bought the place, and took a bunch of the eaves with it when it went. Way back when, I think it was an open porch with a roof over it. Later on, someone got their hands on some barn sashes, and inelegantly hinged them in all the openings. Here’s what we found when we moved in:

That door had a fifteen-foot drop to your death outside it. I screwed that red piece of wood over the frame when we moved in. Before that, whoopee! As you can see, the ceiling is sagging, with a hole in it and mildew stains all over it. It turns out there were about four hundred flying squirrels living up there. Up until now, I’ve never found a talking moose up there. But you never know.

Looking the other direction is where the view is. There’s a road, and some mountains, a grass airfield, some other fields, and a big river, currently slumbering under a thick layer of ice.

I pulled on the ceiling, and the whole thing came down on my head. The last photo is when we had almost finished cleaning up. We were up to our knees in leaf litter and pine needles. The squirrels made a giant futon out of the ceiling. They dragged all sorts of things up there. We found a bunch of McD’s happy meal toys in the rubble. I’m glad someone, er, something got some use out of them.

So we shoveled and bagged the mess, and took stock of what remained.

That’s some funky framing, y’all. The carpenters who built the house used rough and ready lumber back in the day. You can see a lot of wane, another name for barked edges on boards. For reasons that escape me some people enjoy dining tables and countertops with wane edges these days, although they call them “live edge.” Wane is considered a defect, people. I advise you to get off the euphemism train and buy a better table. Then again, if you listen to me too much, you might end up in a derelict house in an arctic wasteland. I did, and I often listen to myself.

If you inspect that last photo closely, you can see knob and tube wiring lying on top of the boards. Whatever fixture they served is long gone, and the insulation is nibbled off. It was all still live when I discovered it. For all I know, flying squirrel MDs had been using the two wires as a defibrillator for fellow rodents with hinky tickers. The wires were attached to the overhead lights in the kitchen. Right at this moment was when I decided to kill all the knob and tube wiring in the house dead, dead, dead, before I was. We didn’t have a single working overhead light in the house for a long time after.

Looking the other way, you can see daylight. Squirrels give themselves more easy outs than a T-ball team. I patched the molding on the outside, and put spray foam all along the inside of the soffits to seal out varmints and bees and drafts.

Let’s see if we can make something useful out of this place.

[To be continued]

2 Responses

  1. I learned a new use for the word “wane” today, thank you.

    That was exactly the sort of rough-cut lumber they used for the roofing boards on our house framing. They varied in width even on the same board (I guess it depended on the tree) but they were a genuine 2.0000″ thick (well, more or less about 2″). They were spaced with several inches between them; my roofing contractor (no way I was getting up on a 45° roof) told us that was so that the cedar shakes (still there as the first layer) wouldn’t rot and could dry out to the attic.

    Thanks again for the blogging, and today for the new use of a word!

    1. Hi Blackwing- Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Leaving spaces between roof sheathing boards to allow air to reach the back of roofing materials is called skip sheathing. It was common when roofs were made from cedar shingles. They mimic this effect nowadays with breathable membranes, a kind of mesh that lets air circulate behind roofing and sidewall coverings.

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