Our front steps are legal and our golf cart is an artistic statement. Whew.

We took our front steps for granted, until the base rotted away. And then we found they weren’t up to code anyway. Now all is fixed, with a good stone foundation.

IT’S BEEN A BUSY late-summer building season at the Nuthatch.

Finally, our front steps are up to code, now seven normal-size steps where once there were four GIANT steps. (Anyone playing “Mother May I” would have had to ask special permission to get up to our front door.)

We are also now the proud owners of Center Island’s only art cart. We finally caved and acquired an electric golf cart, the preferred-by-many method for getting around on our island, where you aren’t allowed to drive privately owned internal-combustion-powered vehicles on the one-lane community roads.

Daughter Lillian decorates the art cart. The finned cargo box was my creation.

The front steps replacement was a giant project for me. (Bob Vila’s job is safe.) I was helped along a bit by our generous island friend Dan Lewis, a union carpenter in his former life. But yours truly did much of the pounding, sawing, finishing and polishing. And everything is now legal, from the grippable handrails to the upright balusters that a four-inch ball can’t be pushed through (that’s in the state building code).

We’ve been among the sole holdouts who preferred to walk or bike around the island, but old legs keep getting older and it was time for a backup mode of transportation. So when an island neighbor was upgrading to shiny and new recently, we snapped up their old-but-still-functional (like us) E-Z-Go golf cart.

The first thing the cart needed was a cargo box for carrying groceries and supplies. I crafted one from cedar planks and repurposed bits of the old staircase, giving the cargo compartment a finned profile like the family station wagon of my childhood. But why stop there? Since seeing art cars displayed at Seattle’s Fremont Fair, daughter Lillian has always wanted to create one. So we offered her our golf cart as a blank canvas. Over Labor Day weekend, she gathered swordferns and leaves of salal, Oregon grape, and maple, daubed them with paint and printed the cart with nature’s images. Because the squat little vehicle’s basic color is dark green, and “Wind in the Willows” is one of our favorite read-aloud books, we’ve dubbed it Mr. Toad.

Lillian adds ferns to Mr. Toad’s, uh, forehead.

Other than that, the Nuthatch has endured deck repairs, railing repairs, gutter repairs and construction of attractive cedar screens around the not-so-attractive rain barrel and electric heat pump. It’s all part of this pioneering island life.

Winter will be a nice break. All I have to do then is chop firewood.

3 thoughts on “Our front steps are legal and our golf cart is an artistic statement. Whew.

  1. Hi Nutmeister- Funny was just thinking of you guys on my drive back from the Bisbee Sat market this morning. Resisted the impulse to drive call. Congrats on finishing the code compliant stairway to Nuthatch heaven. And the golf cart sounds like a no brainer. The fernprints on Mr Toad look like eyebrows! Just be careful in the mud on steep hills! Hip healing nicely been walking w/ out a cane I’ld say 50% of the time. Can ride my bike that I have up on a stationary stand. Doug is putting screen doors on my soon to be screened porch which runs the length of my house. Will be nice when the weather mellows out in a month or two. Doug and Tom will be gone Thanksgiving through Christmas leaving me to chicken sit….careful with that one…so depending on how the election goes….I will expect the unexpected I guess. Currently reading “THE REBELS OF IRELAND” by Edward Rutherford. Have you read any of his tombs? Hope you’re not getting as much smoke as the rest of the west coast…Portland is right up there with the Bay area in terms of particulate density….as if they’ve not had enough drama for the year already. What does Lil say about conditions at Shilshole?We’re even getting high smokey clouds but I’m not complaining, yet. Love to you, Barbara and Lil. Sent from my iPhone Thomas Cantwell



  2. One of my favorite books as well, used to read it to the kids when they were little. Glad to see you’re such a beehive of activity up there Brian. Can’t wait for this pandemic to ease up so we can come and visit in person love Kate and Ken no not kith and kin Kate and Ken


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