With a potential move to eastern Kansas a possibility in 2022, a portion of 2021 has been dedicated to preparing the Henley hacienda to be placed on the real estate market for sale.

The bulk of the projects have fallen into one of two categories, safety or cosmetic. The safety work was performed not so much to help sell the house in the future, but in an effort right now to keep me in an upright position as much of the time as possible. The cosmetic tasks have been undertaken to enhance the house's curb appeal to potential buyers.

Because I have never been mistaken for someone who is handy with a hammer, saw or leveler, someone had to be brought in to perform the various projects. Fortunately we did not have to look beyond the Henley family tree to find two competent and willing individuals in my oldest son, Caleb, and my wife, Nancy.

Caleb is more than qualified to perform any number of handyman projects since that is how he earns his daily bread at his home over in Illinois. As for my bride, there is a very good reason why she proudly wears the tool belt in the family and not me.

Among the more formidable tasks to be undertaken thus far was replacing some sections of the exterior siding which were starting to become soft.

A couple of weeks ago Caleb returned to Hannibal to handle a safety project. Because the railing on either side of the steps leading up to the front porch were showing signs of rust, there was concern that they might not support me when I climbed or descended the steps. Caleb's job was to replace both handrails.

While Caleb began the project anticipating he could replace each side in a week, it quickly became apparent that was not going to happen. After seven days we had a rock solid new railing on one side and a promise from Caleb to return in October and finish side B.

Nancy quickly noted how in need of a fresh coat of paint the remainder of the porch railing was when compared to the new railing. It wasn't long before my sweetie could be found in some old clothes prepping the surface of the existing railing and applying a fresh coat of black paint.

Not long after Nancy had finished painting I found myself wondering how many birds, especially sparrows, would land on the wet paint and depart with black feet.

It does not seem that our porch is as much of a gathering point for sparrows as it once was when we had large, cover-providing bushes growing on both sides of the front steps. At that time it felt as if every sparrow in Hannibal had a spot reserved in those bushes. Consequently, the slightest hint of daylight in the morning would generate a chorus of "peeps" that was impossible to sleep through. And the poo. Who knew such little birds could generate such a large amount of railing-covering crap?

Our sparrow population decreased significantly after we dug out those large bushes several years ago.

Now, however, I assume there are at least a few sparrows flying about the neighborhood with darker-than-normal toes. I wonder if a bird-watching enthusiast will notice them and declare Hannibal the home of a new type of sparrow, perhaps calling it the Blackfoot Flock. Of course I will know the truth regarding the birds' feet, but I will keep it to myself since I try not to ruffle too many feathers.

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