Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Screened Porch

We had stacks of cinderblocks falling into the moat during the hurricane. Sounds terrifying when you’re waiting for your house to collapse.

Bricks showed up at my house. They looked strange, but since they were all banded up in stacks, I couldn’t really see them until I came home one day to piers in my back yard. Oh, no! The color was all wrong! I called the contractor and had the work stopped before the foundation wall went up. Since no one had ever asked my opinion on the choice of brick, I had no idea who chose them, but this batch was solid burgundy—nothing like the lighter, variegated brick on our house. Greg told us to look at the brick company’s website, and since David and I were stressed out, we decided to use a couple of gift cards and go out to dinner. We sat at the table and stared at our phones like a couple of Millenials. In the end, we agreed on the name of the brick that we were certain was the best match.


And then we paused for Hurricane Matthew.


David, ready to take on nature’s fury in a bathing suit, rain jacket, and slippers. (His Wellington boots were on the front porch.)

We have never seen so much water in our backyard’s 100-year flood plain—which has flooded several times in the fifteen years we’ve been here. Our garden was underwater. Our neighbor’s garden shed was submerged, with just the peak of the roof above water. We were without power for a couple of days, which allowed my husband to practice all of his caveman/ suburban dad camping skills. I can’t complain. Just a few miles away, people lost their homes, and hundreds of roads washed away. Even the interstate was shut down for weeks. We were back up and running in days.

Of course, they don’t make the bricks that we chose anymore. It took a few days, but Greg obtained a sample of the one that we thought was the next-best match. I met him in the driveway at the end of a long day; we walked into the back yard and stopped short. Greg pointed, and I said, “Oh, my gosh!” The burgundy bricks had dried out thoroughly after the flood, and now they were all different colors! The sample bricks looked too orange, and the bricks on the new piers were pretty close to the ones on our house that had been sheltered by the porch before. In other words, these new ones will probably weather to match within a few years. Greg was incredibly patient. He just quietly said, “Yeah, I usually trust the brickmason to pick the right match.” Yeah.

The foundation wall, looking out from the current kitchen window.

SO… the foundation wall went up, and after a few days, David texted me at work and said, “The framers have arrived! They hope to have the subfloor for the porch and the kitchen extension done today!” It was so thrilling. We had entered a new phase of construction! When I came home, there were piles of lumber in the yard! I came around the corner, and there were floor joists on the kitchen extension and… not on the porch. Why? The porch is going to have a peaked roof, and in order to accommodate the roof, we will have to step down onto the porch. Therefore, where the floor of the porch meets the house, it will attach to bricks, rather than wood. Whereas they could bolt the kitchen floor onto the current house, they realized that they couldn’t do that with the porch floor. And so, we need… more piers. That’s right, we’re right back to having three more footers dug, inspected, poured, inspected, and then piers built, inspected, and then we get back to the porch floor.

That red line is where one of the three new piers needs to go.

This morning, pickup trucks pulled up to my house and brickmasons piled out! Unfortunately, I was home sick, so they probably think that I just hang out in a robe all day, but they are getting those new piers up! As a side benefit, I am learning so much Spanish. Before this, I knew “workplace” Spanish, so that I could fill out your name and address and get you a library card, or Pimsleur Spanish, in which I can find my hotel and restaurant and order beer, which is pretty useless, because I don’t like beer. On the other hand, I think “tequila” is already Spanish, so I’ll survive. However, I am now learning the words for “brick” and “access door,” which are not in many introductory courses. I try to limit myself to “Hermosos!” and “Gracias!”, since I have a feeling that I am not the brickmasons’ favorite person. I have, however, already chosen my own paint color for the inside of the kitchen, just in case the painter thinks that he gets to pick.

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