Sunday, June 24, 2012

Americana Summer

The holidays of summer have begun and nothing shouts summer quite like displaying Old Glory.  For several years now, in honor of Memorial Day, I've had my husband climb up on the roof to put up our flag bunting.  It marks the start of the summer season.

For a household of two teachers, summer vacation and all the holidays it contains are great reasons to celebrate.  We celebrate our nation's history and those who have served this great country in the armed services and in public service.  Memorial Day, Flag Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, and Veterans' Day are important holidays in our home, so throughout the summer months our home is adorned inside and out with all things Americana.  

These old aluminum washtubs tucked in our dry stream bed serve as planters throughout the year.  Come summer I plant heat and sun resistant flowers (vinca and autumn sage) and post a couple of small flags.  The seasonally neutral grape vine wreath that typically hangs on the fence above the planters is replaced with a wooden American flag sign and a simple red wooden star.   

The Americana theme is perfect for bringing out my Radio Flyers.  I picked them up on separate occasions at local thrift stores.  I don't have small children to ride them right now, but hope to some day have grandchildren who will enjoy them.  For now I think they look just right parked in the garden beds.  As temperatures hover around 100 degrees, these bright red bikes may be the only things that survive the Texas heat.

I've been wanting to make some giant fire crackers to use in a display for quite awhile.  My husband gave me a miter saw for mother's day, and I'd been wanting to put it to use.  I bought a large 2" round dowel rod at the local big box home improvement center, and cut it into four randomly sized pieces.  I drilled a small hole in the top of each piece in which to place the "fuse." 

I painted each piece with a base coat of solid red, white, or blue, and one with a band of blue and a larger band of red.  I put a drop of all-purpose white glue in the small drill holes, and then placed the jute string in the hole.  

I attempted to paint additional designs to each of the painted pieces, and re-discovered that painting is HARD!  I need a lot more practice, but I can live with the results.  I had originally planned to put a smaller dowel in the bottom of each fire cracker in order to stake them in a planter or garden, but then remembered my little red fire engine ride-on toy I'd picked up months ago on my junking rounds.  I knew that when paired up I'd have a really special display piece. 

 The fire engine with fire crackers now sits atop my vintage trunk on the front porch.

Now even if you don't have a whole lot of Americana decorations in your home, you could certainly display the American flag, particularly on these important holidays.  We post one flag over our garage year-round, but put up an additional one on our street corner for the summer holidays.  

I first saw this ingenious design for a flagpole while camping a year ago.  It's simple, smart design keeps your flag flying proudly, never becoming tangled by the wind.  It's made from a piece of PVC pipe, a few PVC fittings, 2 nuts and bolts, a washer, and a 3' x 5' flag with grommets.  

Below is a brief explanation of how I made mine. Gather together:
 1 long piece of PVC pipe, 3/4" diameter and at least 120" in length.
1 PVC 3/4" T fitting
1 PVC 3/4" elbow fitting
2 PVC 3/4" cap fittings
1 piece of rebar about 3 feet long
1 large 1" washer with a middle hole big enough to fit around the rebar
2 bolts with nuts to fit through the flag grommets
PVC pipe cutter

Cut the PVC pipe into 4 parts: 2 @ 48" in length and 2 @ 12" in length.

Connect the two smaller pieces like this: 
cap + short pipe + T fitting + short pipe + elbow


Now connect one long pipe to the bottom of the elbow.

This long piece will slide over the rebar to hold the flagpole in a standing position.  

Line up your flag with the second longer piece of PVC.  Mark the position of the grommets.  

Drill holes through the grommet markings on your pvc into which you will bolt the flag.  

Above is the layout for all the PVC pieces.  The flag will attach to the longer arm at the top.

Determine where you'd like to place your flagpole.  Pound the rebar into the ground keeping it as straight as possible.  When you have anchored it in place, slide the washer over the rebar.  The washer allows the PVC to spin without digging into the ground or getting stuck.  This is the part of the design that keeps your flag flying and prevents it from wrapping around itself!

I do so enjoy seeing the flag waving proudly while I sit on the front porch drinking a good cup of coffee. It serves as a reminder of how fortunate I am to live in a free country, of the men and women who have served and continue to serve this great nation, and of our country's history and hope for the future.  

All photos taken by Paulette Rodriguez.

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