Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Progress on the Porch Glider!

We're finally getting some momentum under us on that porch glider (you'll remember that it was begun as a Valentine's Day project). At first, it was embarrassingly appropriate because it was to be red and it was Valentine's Day. Then it seemed like it might be embarrassingly appropriate because it's red and it was the 4th of July. Now it's looking more like it's going to be embarrassingly appropriate for Christmas instead. I guess it's a good thing we didn't stain it lilac.

Some context: we had rustoleumed the metal frame, used a pipe bender and some spare fence parts to create the seat brackets, painted the brackets, and stained and varnished all the new slats.

So we're left at the stage of drilling holes in the brackets and the slats. We started easy, attaching the arm rests to the frame.

Matt, attaching armrests.

Then we had to measure and re-measure all the holes for the brackets. Naturally, they are none of them exactly the same length nor precisely the same curve--pipe bending is not an exact art--at least, not when we practice it. Then we began drilling the holes, which requires a special kind of drill bit, of which we only had one. And we melted it.

It would seem that fence piping is kind of hard-core stuff. Which, I suppose, is good in terms of the longevity of the swing. But we have to drill about 45 more holes, and this drill bit melted after a mere 4 holes. So now I'm in the market for a metal-drilling drill bit made of kryptonite.

But perhaps it's a good thing this project is taking so long. If we had finished it last weekend, we'd have felt obliged to sit in the darn thing, and it's really much to hot for that. After several months of drilling a little, buying a new drill bit, drilling a little, buying a new drill bit, drilling a little... it'll be lovely and cool, and we'll want nothing more than to rock on our glider in the crisp autumn air, watching the leaves fall in that lovely, slanting, mellow autumn light (in Central Texas, the kind of weather I'm describing actually occurs in very, very, very late Autumn. Like January, in fact.)

Celebrating the little victories: we attach two of the swing brackets to the glider frame

You may remember that a week or so ago I posted a picture of our blackberry lily (Belacamda chinensis). I was, in retrospect, a little harsh, a little condescending to the good blackberry lily. Because my snottiness notwithstanding, it's still blooming bravely. You still wouldn't call it exactly a heavy bloomer, but it's putting out a few blossoms at once and it seems inclined to just keep on doing it, possibly indefinitely. In, I have to point out, July/August. It's plucky, that's what this blackberry lily is. An underdog. A trooper. Modest, yet determined. Here's to you, blackberry lily. Long may you bloom.

Blackberry lily, undeterred.

We also have this lovely thing, coming into its own in this unlikely season. It's a Clerodendrum ugandense, or blue butterfly bush. That common name represents a real failure of imagination. I mean, yes, I can see that they resemble butterflies. But lots of things are called butterfly plants or butterfly bushes--common, hard-working, slightly prosaic plants, for the most part. But this cool indigo loveliness, with its elegant elongated stamens and tiers of improbably dainty flowers deserves some more distinctive name, like porcelain flower or harlequin plant or, if it weren't already taken, love-in-a-mist.

In any event, when I took this picture, the plant was covered in inflorescences, while in full sun in July on the western side of the house and getting almost no supplementary water. Do you have a blue butterfly bush? Maybe you should go buy one.

Clerodendrum ugandense

And finally, here's a picture of my nifty Scadoxus, a week after its big bloom. It has interestingly broad leaves for an amaryllid, and the spent flowers look rather like the ghostly remains of a firework, after the light has faded. In a shady, neglected, slightly decadent garden, they would look pleasantly melancholy, I think. In full July sun in a partly empty bed with a bit of irrigating tubing sticking out, they just look matter of fact. Perhaps by next year, we'll have a few more plants in this bed to keep it company and give it that suitably decayed and deranged Southern look.

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