Posts Tagged 'deck'

Quality Matters

Ah, 2020, the year when we need to devise new ways to do traditional things. We have just completed the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. These are wonderful events and, like most holidays, a time when we get together with family, friends and community. Except it’s very difficult to fit large numbers of people together in limited space and observe social distancing. Our congregation had a “sacred space” committee that sent out emails, suggesting ways we could all achieve or create a “sacred space” for ourselves in order to observe the holiday. They suggested that people should NOT just sit in their usual video conferencing setup but that we should all dress up, change locations within our homes, and otherwise beautify or “dress up” the space. I discussed this with my sister and we agreed that setting up outside, on my deck, would be a wonderful way to create a sacred space – outside in nature. Of course for me, this year has been horrendous with the no-see-ums so I knew if we were outside, I needed to be INSIDE of screens.

I already had one pop-up canopy, but it did not have sides. I went searching on the internet (WAS there life and commerce before the internet?) for another popup but with screens, and a way to add screens to the one I had. What a range in prices and styles. I didn’t want to spend THAT much because I really didn’t see the need for TWO popup canopies in my life. I confess that I let price be the deciding factor when I finally found some 10’x10′ popup canopies with screened sides. The add-on screens and the screened popup arrived a week before they were needed. My sister and I spent an afternoon setting them up, aligning them, figuring out how to ‘join’ them and keep them steady. That was Tuesday and when we were done it looked GREAT! Thursday morning I woke up and went off to make sandwiches. While I was making sandwiches it began raining. It poured. I came home and the new popup had collapsed under the rain. I was very very dispirited. But come Saturday the sun rose, and like the itsy bitsy spider the tent went up again. This time with pool noodles to try to keep rain from bringing down it down.

The holidays were wonderful. We made a beautiful space in the screened area. We had friends join us for meals, and we could be socially distanced because of the large space. We had multiple laptops and large added monitors so we could livestream services and have our families video conference in to join us while they ran a livestream for the services. Hurray for multiple devices! No rain from Saturday September 12 through Tuesday September 29. Last night was a major storm – someone on a morning business video conference called it a mini-hurricane. It was so fierce that it woke me up around 3:30 am, which is extremely unusual given how hard of hearing I have become lately. I went downstairs and looked out. Sure enough, the new popup was splayed and bent across the deck. I guess pool noodles will only get you so far. But it’s okay. It did what I needed it to do. If in the future I want to be able to build and KEEP an extended screened area, I think I might invest a few more dollars and get something a bit more sturdy. It seems you do get what you pay for. Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, PEACEFUL new year, filled with hope and good things. 🙂

THIS is why, Ann

july 26 dinner 2

Ready for the guests to arrive

More than 30 years ago my husband and I went before the town planning board to get permission to put an extension on our house and build an attached deck. The addition was in place of the tiny back porch and little pantry, and part of where the driveway widened for the 2-car garage. The deck was approximately 32 ft by 15.5 feet and replaced most of our backyard. To get the necessary permits, you have to send notices to all the neighbors, and go before either the zoning board or planning board for permission and any variances. Even if our deck were to be smaller, we’d have needed variances because our old house was built before the ordinances were created and we had existing variances. (I don’t know why that should make us have to go if the new work wouldn’t be in variance, but it does.) I believe there were 5 people on the board, one of them, Ann, a mother of a classmate of mine. During the days leading up to our hearing, I saw various strangers stroll down my driveway and into my backyard – board members checking out the property. We got to the hearing and Ann reproved us, asking “WHY do you NEED such a LARGE deck?” Before we could even start to reply to this unexpected question, another board member spoke up. “Did you SEE their property, Ann? (aside: no – she never came to look.) It’s shady, it slopes, no grass because of the shade. The deck will be a huge improvement.” Well, yes, he was right. Not only would the deck give us a usable attractive backyard, it would function as a large entertainment room as well. Needless to say, our application was approved, the addition added, and we got our deck (which my structural engineer husband designed to withstand nuclear attack and about which the builders complained bitterly).

getting ready

Preparing the deck for little 1-year old feet!

There have been various pictures on this blog that show the deck – in snow, in summer, in fall with the red tail hawk feasting on the squirrel. Over the years the furnishings on the deck have changed from sandboxes and plastic slides and play houses and shade from the cherry tree branches to market umbrellas and wood furnishings to umbrellas and led-lit palm trees and propane-tank fire pits with big comfy chairs. The hot tub has been a constant in the one corner, although it is now the 3rd tub.

the clan on the deck

The clan on the deck enjoying lunch

My niece and her husband and their our one-year old summer solstice baby came to visit July 4th weekend. It was supposed to be in the 90s and humid all day. How to keep everyone happy and safe? The deck has one oscillating fan and 3 umbrellas. Thinking of little soft feet that had only just learned to walk on their own a few short weeks earlier, I went out and bought a large outdoor ‘carpet’ for the deck. I put up a square 10’x10′ pop-up awning. I brought 3 more fans out from the house and aimed them at the play area under the awning. I bought LOTS of toys for ‘my’ baby. I NEEDED a pool. There were no small kiddie pools to be had in time for love or money. What to do???? /me sings “ShopRite has the answer!” There it was – right as you walk into the store. Pool toys. Including an inflatable raft with sides. The PERFECT size and shape for a pool!!!! All for the exorbitant price of $8. As you can see in the pictures, we had plenty of shade, the fans gave us a breeze, and some of us enjoyed the water. 🙂 Yes, it WAS humid but the fans do help somewhat. It was good, but I knew I could do better.

ladies of the family (2)

The ladies of my family are beautiful but I must protect them from the paparazzi!

This past weekend we had friends coming for dinner on the deck. It would be the 6 of us, and it was again going to be in the high 90s and humid. 4 of us belonged to one ‘pod’ but the other 2 are just in the process of venturing out to be socially distanced, maskless, from non-pod people. Not only that, but I knew I had to do better about the heat and humidity. I upped the number of fans to 5, including buying 2 with larger diameter than the ones from the house that I’d used before. 🙂 4 oscillating fans and one stationary fan. The day before I set up the pop-up tent and surrounded it with 4 umbrellas. I also made sure we had LOTS of ice – 30 pounds of ice. Yes – 20 would have sufficed. 🙂 But you KNOW I would have needed more if I’d only had 20. We did quite well – social distance was maintained, there was a constant gentle breeze, and a good time (and great food) was had by all.

july 26 dinner 1

Socially distanced dinner for 6 -can you find the 5th fan?

Now I’m on vacation. I know that I’m “supposed” to going down the shore multiple times this week. BUT. Well. This is embarrassing to write but honestly – I know I’m getting old. It’s actually too hot for me to want to pack up everything and shlepp to the beach early enough to avoid the worst of the traffic. I made a list of everything I’d like to get done in the way of chores, and there are a LOT of things to be done. Why chores on vacation? Because I don’t have time to get some of these things done when I’m working and they are constant irritants whenever I see them or think about them. The solution? Spa Ahuva!!!!!

setting up Spa Ahuva

Setting up Spa Ahuva

Welcome to Spa Ahuva! It has ALL the amenities of the most luxurious spas. Easy to get to – no traffic. Secluded – exclusive membership. Shade. Comfortable chairs. Gentle breeze to keep guests cool and keep the bugs away. Hot tub, for those aching muscles. Rest facilities within an easy walk. And a POOL to cool off in should the need arise. Because I finally found a kiddie pool online that I could still get delivered. Although, Spa Ahuva doesn’t REALLY have all the amenities I need. There is no wait staff to come around and take my food and drink order, and deliver the order chair-side. I’ll have to work on that.

So Ann P – THIS is why we NEEDED such a LARGE deck. 🙂

Spa Ahuva

Spa Ahuva, as seen from my chaise lounge

Happy New Year

IMG_9978That title is both a wish and a description. I wish you and yours a happy healthy new year to come. And I am overcome with emotion from my wonderfully happy new year’s day brunch yesterday. I don’t even know where to start to tell you about it – it is such a whirlwind of activity and emotion hosting an open house for family and friends. I do know one thing for sure, however, that I have to tell you – and will say repeatedly – I could never have done it without my sister’s help. She and her husband and my husband worked and prepped and cooked and baked and cleaned through the 4 days it took to match this party to my hopes and expectations. 🙂 But of the 3 of them it was my sister who put in hours doing a lot of the manual labor and tedious tasks while I bustled about on more glamorous endeavors. My sister was my rock. Best Sister Ever.

For me, throwing a party is about family, food, friends, and, for certain parties, football 🙂 The football was a bit disappointing for this brunch but I have the best friends and family. IMG_9982Food is important but if you don’t have great friends who like to come out and meet and greet each other, you aren’t going to have a good time. I have to say that I am extremely fortunate in my friends. Everyone socializes and talks to folks they might not have met before. There was a lot of laughing and conversation and hugging and handshaking. My friends come with their happiness on high and share it around. I loved getting to see everyone and chat and to see them all having fun together. This party was billed as both a new year’s day party and a ‘come see the new kitchen’ party. *grin* More on that another day.

We were also fortunate in the weather – nearly 60 degrees and sunny in the afternoon. I always use my deck as my “walk in refrigerator” for my winter parties. I confess I was a little concerned about how WARM it was – if my desserts and drinks would stay fresh. IMG_9986 *grin* The upside of the warm weather was being able to set up the deck so folks could be outside and enjoying the sun!

The party lasted from bright warm sunshine into the dark hours, but the fun never diminished. Okay, for the cats the fun ceased completely once I brought out the vacuum cleaner that morning. 🙂 GC and BC disappeared back upstairs until the last guest left. WC attempted to hold her own in the sun room, refusing to budge so that I could clean the couch but she finally retreated upstairs when the first guests arrived. The 3 of them were quite relieved once I shut the front door for good. But as for ME – I’m still feeling the ‘afterglow’.


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