I was all geared up to write a meaty post this afternoon, but it’s cold, it’s snowing, and the Olympics are on. I made it outside long enough to shovel the slushy piles from our front steps and porches and got some good shots of the house bedecked in white.
Beautiful as it is, I’m done with polar vortices and snowflake-induced hysteria. Bring on spring!
In a remote corner of our yard, there’s an unassuming little tree that’s towered over by its neighbors. Most of the year it sits overlooked, blending into the lush green surroundings.
But, after a few friendly nudges from Jack Frost, the tree’s leaves turn a rich ruby hue, revealing it as a Japanese Maple. For the past several weeks, it’s taken center stage as the trees around it drop their leaves and go dormant for the winter.
In 1776, our house was already 22 years old. That fact fascinates me endlessly.
I wasn’t all that interested in American history during my grade school years. But in the context of this house, I’m fascinated by it. I wonder what life was like in the Ordinary House on July 4th, 1776? How long was it before the residents knew what happened that day? Did a declaration of independence from Britain frighten them, was it exciting, or was it some mix of both?
The Regulator movement, protesting corruption by royal government officials, was well-established in these parts and several of its participants were hanged by British troops only a few hundred yards from our front door. Grievances of this sort fanned the flames of revolution, leading to that fateful day when our great nation was formed.
This continuity with our past is part of the power of architecture, and is one of the reasons I’m such an ardent supporter of preservation.
The experiment of these United States isn’t perfect, as the evening news reminds us. But, I think we can all agree that we’re lucky to live in a country that affords us the freedom of opportunity that our founding fathers so desired.
There’s not much I don’t like about magnolia trees. Their thick, waxy leaves, low-hanging, climbable branches and attractive shape make them a favorite feature in any southern landscape. We were fortunate to inherit two enormous, aged specimens with the Ordinary House. They sit in an ideal habitat at the bottom of the yard, on the banks of Stillhouse Creek. For the past few weeks, they’ve been particularly beautiful, as their huge, creamy white flowers emerge for a late spring show.
What makes a white picket fence so universally appealing? Is it its association with our idealized notions of American domesticity? Or maybe just the visual allure of a crisp silhouette standing in contrast to the world around it?
Whatever the reason, the color white is key. We had a new fence installed just after we moved in last August and left the picketed portions to weather over the fall and winter. The fence looked okay, but wasn’t particularly noteworthy, at least until this weekend. I knew this dreaded day was coming, the one when I had to start the tedious process of transforming hundreds of feet of ho-hum unfinished yellow pine to eye-catching bright white. There’s really no good way to paint a fence except one…picket…at…a…time. I know how Tom Sawyer felt.
Over the weekend I managed to paint the five sections of fence directly in front of the house. If you’ve walked by and counted how many are left to go, please don’t tell me, I don’t care to know.
Technically, I’m staining the fence with an opaque acrylic stain called Rubbol, by Sikkens. The product covers well enough to make this a one-coat job, a must for my sanity. Sikkens is well known in the building industry for durable clear coat products, so I’m hoping this stain will stand up to the elements for many years to come.
On this Memorial Day, I share this unquestionably American image of our colonial house with its white picket fence, and offer my sincerest thanks to all those who fight to keep my American dream alive.
As anyone living in the southeast can attest, spring has not sprung this year. But you can tell that as soon as Mother Nature gives us a string of 70-degree days, the world is going to turn the color of Kermit the Frog and Claritin will be in short supply. I try not to wish away the crisp mornings and evenings, knowing that it’ll be ugly hot before too long. Despite the cool weather, a few hardy flowers are making their presence known around the Ordinary House with colorful displays of petals and pistils. It won’t be long now.
If you’re not sure what’s pretty or exciting about this photo, welcome to the blog.
After a week-and-a-half of heavy-handed intervention, William Reed’s Ordinary has officially joined the 21st century with modern, efficient heating and cooling systems. There are a few odds and ends for the HVAC contractor to finish up, and a county inspection to pass, but warm air is flowing from the floor vents as I write this. Stay tuned for a detailed recounting of how we integrated central air into a house that was built more than 150 years before it became commonplace…
Last weekend’s unseasonably warm weather seems to have confused many of the bulbs in our yard. Everywhere you look green shoots are poking out of the dirt, unsure of their next move now that a blast of arctic air has settled over North Carolina. There is one species that seems undaunted by the cold: these tiny crocuses (croci?) managed to open their blooms completely, offering an unexpected display of winter-time color.
With all that’s gone on at the ordinary this year, it’s sometimes hard to believe that we’ve only lived here since August. I feel good about what we’ve managed to do in the past four months, and I’m looking forward to keeping that momentum rolling into 2013. With central air and a new puppy just around the corner, the new year will be interesting (and expensive) right from the start.
The last sunset over Hillsborough in 2012 was an impressive one. Happy New Year!
At the side of our house, one of the many camellias in the yard has started producing rich red blossoms. The flowers in combination with our new gray-green siding paint (more on this soon), make a timely holiday display. Merry Christmas!