We have just finished with the new front porch, the project went pretty well. I worked out a deal with a really good carpenter who is in between jobs right now. The guy is really good at what he does, but he is pretty awful at getting along with people who are supposed to be his bosses. Of course I just wanted to get the project done right at the best price I could. Maria wanted a big porch with a swing bench on each side, something that used to be really common in the time when she was growing up. Of course before there was air conditioning people would have a porch on both the front of the house and the back. They would use the one that shaded them from the sun. We designed the porch with a big ceiling fan which takes care of much of that issue. If you have a cold drink then you can keep cool pretty much.
The project in the back yard is a different sort of thing, based on something I saw a long time ago when I visited this estate which had a formal garden. Right in the middle of place was a pond, which was about a quarter of an acre in size. The pond had a gazebo in the middle with a bridge connecting it to the shore. Of course I could really not build anything that size, but we have a natural bowl in the back yard, a depression where you could easily build a pond if you created a rather modest levee. In fact you would merely need to rent an excavator and remove some dirt from the depression to create added depth to the pond. I am going to see how practical it would be to drive piles for both the bridge and the gazebo.