Monday, October 07, 2013


Here's a downside of suddenly having terrific light in your kitchen: you can now see every inch of counter top, every bit of the dish rack, every smudge on every surface before you.

And so despite the fact that the farmhouse is one big construction zone right now -- with buckets of tools and strips of wood leaning by the windows -- I start the day with a thorough house cleaning.

But after breakfast...


...we are at it again.

This is the second most nerve racking day for me. (The first day of placing the panels topped the list because we were uncertain then how everything would unfold.)

It is the day when we have to heave up and place the biggest and heaviest of all the glass panels. It is so fat and wide that it can't easily be passed through the window. At 85 pounds, it is so heavy that I'm not sure I can lift it high enough to do the bend at the stairwell. It is so fragile and expensive and important that I really think the day would be a lot pleasanter if we could just fast forward it to the moment when that damn thing is in place and I can sit back and thank my stars that I didn't let go of it or bump it or do any number of terrible things to have it shatter into a million pieces.

At least the weather is good.

Ed starts us off by placing the plywood strategically so that we can approach the gaping hole. It's a balancing act up there. Walking is safe only in the middle of the plywood or on the beams themselves.

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I'm nervous enough that I can't work. I pluck weeds around the picnic table outside. Furiously. As if they had to be gone and out of there in the next two minutes.

Okay, we're ready.

Everything moves slowly now. The initial lift, the steady walk to the farmhouse, the first turn, the one into the living room. We rest before we take on the stairs. Ed mumbles that he should have developed a better pulley system outside. The first big challenge is managing the stair turn. Up, it has to go up and I'm the lead person (and no edge can scrape against anything -- we've learned that lesson!).

Are you okay? I ask. He's hesitating below me.
Are you okay?

Sometimes you wonder at the things you're capable of doing. They seem too mighty, too bold, too brazen. To think that the motherload of glass panels can be lifted, carried up, placed with a quarter inch precision on rafters suspended in midair...

But you do it because it needs to be done.

And this is how we get it round the bend in the stairs, and out the window, at a tilt, all ten feet by thirty inches of it, balancing ourselves on the rafters and the plywood, pushing it gently in place.

Well, here we do falter. I can't push it hard enough. Ed goes down to the porch, climbs a ladder and like the mighty Hercules that he sometimes is, he lifts the pane above his head while up there, on the roof, I guide it into position.

And there you have it -- the largest of the panels in place, suddenly throwing light into the western corner of the porch and, more significantly, into the dining area of the farmhouse kitchen.


After this, everything else seems like child's play. A few more panels, more strips of wood to screw in and we're done for the day. Of course, we're not done in any true fashion. We have installed fifteen panels. The sixteenth we'll have to reorder (because of the nick). I wailed loud and hard and finally Ed agreed that the nicked one needs to be discarded. Then, too, he has edging to do and finally, we'll need to paint at least some and possibly all of the boards and beams. We don't mind the funky look, but it's a tad too funky out on the porch right now.

But as the sprinkles return in the evening, we have the satisfaction of knowing that the greatest effort is behind us. In an unusual moment of grateful appreciation for my efforts (as if I did even a quarter as much as he has done!) Ed suggests a Monday night out to celebrate. Yes!

This evening, though, is reserved for my daughter and her husband. They come for Sunday supper late enough that they can't appreciate the sudden burst of light in the kitchen.

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But they bring a gust of cheerful energy into the farmhouse and they listen to our stories of roof issues and I'm thinking -- it surely will be so nice for us all to be sitting out on the porch again next summer. Under skies of blue, or dusky gray, watching the bats swoop above us as the warm evening turns into night.