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Weather, work, rest, and the damned dog

Ninety-seven degrees yesterday. We go from January-in-June to too darned hot.

I reminded myself Joel had it worse. I could at least keep the inside temps down (and I see that as of today, Joel has some hope for that, too; yay, Joel). Not until after 8:00 last night did it cool to pleasantness. I hauled the computer outside and completed a long and overdue pair of emails to a friend. That felt good.

It was already 75 at 6:00 this morning, and 80 on our morning dog walk. But that’s where the day decided to settle. Low 80s with a slight breeze. Absolute summertime perfection.


It was cool enough that I went out and painted wood preservative on the cut ends and edges left from May’s portion of the Great Foundation and Screen Porch Project, then screwed steel tie plates down everywhere the new posts meet the new beams.

I’m counting on the tie plates for an extra boost of structural integrity in event of an earthquake.

Wood construction is earthquake friendly. Shake it and it sways. It can sway a long time and a long ways before it breaks. During the last notable quake I was in (Nisqually, 2001), the only local damage was to elderly concrete block foundations. The wooden deck and frame of my yurt creaked like a vintage sailing ship in a storm, but suffered no harm.

This house has a post-and-beam (aka block-and-beam) foundation, verboten under the current building code. But as long as it’s not rotting and collapsing into the mud, I’m happy with it. Still, far as I can tell nothing but gravity keeps the foundation beams resting on their posts. I’ve long wanted to affix tie plates. The Wandering Monk will crawl under the house to retrofit the rest of the foundation with plates later.

I’m hoping it’s not delusional to believe these plates will help, should we ever get The Big One. Worse come to worst, they’re an inexpensive, low-labor gamble. Can’t hurt.


So after finishing treatment and tie plates, I made myself a nice glass of iced tea, then went out onto the soon-to-be screen porch (currently subfloored and roofed, but not framed or screened) and relaxed on a bentwood rocker. I took Ava with me, attaching the handle of her long leash to a baker’s rack that’s going to live on the porch. For half an hour I wrote while she sat placidly, sniffing the air and watching the sights.

Strangers I meet often comment on what a good dog Ava is.

That’s because they don’t know her.

After a companionable idyll, Ava spotted something in the yard that I didn’t see until too late: a deer.

WHAM! Off she took at just under the speed of sound. Down — on me! — came the baker’s rack, everything that was on it, its two now-detached shelves, two jumbo ammo cans that had been sitting next to it, an end table, a box of crackers, and naturally my nearly full glass of ice tea. Which chose to fall on the notebook I was writing in. Off Ava and Bambi went, with a length of pink-and-orange leash flopping behind them.

So much for pastoral idylls.

At least Ava turned back before she and her leash tangled hopelessly in trees and brush. That’s something. And Bambi got away. Bambi always does, because Ava’s quick on the prey-drive trigger but not persistent. Once the deer was in the brush and headed back up the hill, Ava decided the lawn was entertaining enough. She was sniffing away at the grass and came willingly when I dug myself out from under the rubble and fetched her.

She’s always happy to come with me. ‘Cause Ava’s a good dog. Yeah.


Thanks to my friend in high finance and other friends of the blog, the money’s in the bank for the rest of the summer’s structural (and related) work. The Monk’s got small projects to finish for other clients, plus the Fourth of July to celebrate, so we’re scheduled to be back to serious work July 6.


  1. Pat
    Pat June 25, 2017 2:54 pm

    It’s been 70s here at night, but never 100s during the day. High 80s and humid is bad enough for me.

    The best part of “Kiss Me Kate” was Ann Miller’s & Tommy Rall’s singing and dancing! I loved them both.

  2. Claire
    Claire June 25, 2017 3:28 pm

    The best part of “Kiss Me Kate” was Bob Fosse and Carol Haney setting the world of choreography on fire with their brief number toward the end.

    At the time nobody had ever seen anything like it — certainly not Hermes Pan who was credited with (but did not do) all the film’s choreography.

    But I’ll watch the movie again soon and get back to you on Miller and Rall. πŸ™‚

    Here’s the complete version of that number with all three of the suiters and their ladies for comparison:

  3. Pat
    Pat June 25, 2017 4:06 pm

    Yes, I watched Fosse and Haney several times, and did compare the three sets of dancers.

    It was a very talent-filled movie, including the script and parallel story lines.

  4. Claire
    Claire June 25, 2017 4:17 pm

    Yep, something for everybody. πŸ™‚ It’s been a while since I watched the whole movie. Looking forward to it.

  5. larryarnold
    larryarnold June 25, 2017 7:54 pm

    “Kiss Me” is indeed a great movie, but it’s really a blast to play in on the live stage.

    Dogs gotta be dogs. Deer gotta be deer. People get choices.

  6. Claire
    Claire June 25, 2017 8:30 pm

    “‘Kiss Me’ is indeed a great movie, but it’s really a blast to play in on the live stage.

    I knew you were involved in theater, larryarnold. Very cool. Do you sing and dance?

    “Dogs gotta be dogs. Deer gotta be deer. People get choices.”

    Yup. And imagining that the weight of a mere baker’s rack would hold Ava for one second when her mad prey drive is upon her was a really, really bad choice on my part. (But you knew that, didn’t you?)

  7. Arthur Murray
    Arthur Murray June 26, 2017 3:12 am

    “……then screwed steel tie plates down everywhere the new posts meet the new beams.”

    Talk to the Monk about this, but in cases like this (the right) nails are better than screws, even though screws appear to be a better choice.

    Nails are made from steel wire, and being of moderate quality steel, they bend when their resistance to deformation is exceeded. Higher quality steel – which is what screws are made from, in addition to a hardening process applied to many screws – frequently breaks rather than bends when the load increases beyond their capacity to resist it. (Screws, because they’re frequently hardened and smaller in nominal diameter than the appropriate nail, usually have much less shear resistance than nails, and in some cases, even in wood, a well-fitted screw (“well fitted” means the hole into which the screw is inserted is properly sized for the shank diameter of the screw, allowing complete thread engagement with the wood fibers; with tapered wood screws, this also means the correct hole taper, which requires a tapered bit and is affected by hole depth) can be pulled apart by tension load, especially in hardwoods; softwoods usually aren’t strong enough to sufficiently resist tearing of wood fibers in tension loads and the screw pulls out rather than breaks, but there are fairly common instances of the screw head being separated from the shank, even in softwood.)

    In most cases a little bit of bending is preferable because the alternative is a break – complete failure of the fastener.

    It is possible to use screws that have a higher, and in some cases, a much higher, deformation resistance than a comparably-sized nail, but that doesn’t happen often. and is difficult to achieve in wood.

    Nails come in a multitude of sizes and strength (most are surprised at just how many different sizes, materials and forms of nails there are) and the specificity of purpose for which they’re designed and made.

    If screws are required, and in some cases nothing else will do, it pays to use the right one. I’ve mentioned them here before, but McFeely’s Hardwoods sells tons of different ones, and there are several employees who have a great deal of knowledge on the topic, including access to technical specs. And, picking their brains is cheaper than hiring an engineer.specializing in wood products and fasteners.

  8. Claire
    Claire June 26, 2017 6:42 am

    Thank you, Arthur Murray. Given that these are softwoods, I suspect breakage of screws isn’t going to be the problem. But that’s interesting and I will look into it. Wouldn’t want a failure over something simple and preventable.

  9. Alan
    Alan June 26, 2017 7:15 am

    I agree about the nails vs. screws. In fact, I would go one further and say to be sure to use the special nails made for the plates. They have a larger diameter shank that is sized specifically for the diameter of the holes in the plates to prevent as much movement as possible.
    Also, a key addition is cross bracing for the perimeter posts. My place is an old 1906 on 3-4 foot posts, which makes for a nice crawl space and plenty of air circulation but is quite a ride in an earthquake. πŸ™‚

  10. Claire
    Claire June 26, 2017 7:52 am

    Alan — Thank you for you v*te on the subject. Okay then. I will hit the hardware store today to ask about special nails for these tie-plates.

    Agreed on cross-bracing! The back end of my house, where we’re working now, is too low to the ground to have cross bracing, but that’s something I want to add to the front end of the house where there’s more room. My longest posts are a little shorter than yours, but yes, I can imagine the ride you and your house would get in a quake!

  11. R. L. Wurdack
    R. L. Wurdack June 27, 2017 8:59 am

    Simpson strong tie screws are engineered for the application. If you can afford them they are probably the optimal solution. Other manufacturers make similar product.

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