Friday, July 3, 2015

Up On a Roof

With all the rain we have been getting this spring, I'm surprised it took me this long to discover the leak. Looking back, I guess a lot of our rain has come at night or while I was busy doing other things. Also, as far as leaks go, this one was one of the better varieties because the leak was occurring on the outside of the house and not inside.

This spring when we were finishing up siding the house, we were ending up with the chimney. The problem was that when the previous occupants re-shingled the house about four years ago, they incorrectly flashed between the chimney and the roof. The pulled the shingles off and then put new shingles over the flashing instead of under it or woven in between the shingles. So water running down the chimney should shed itself on top of the shingles was now being funneled to the underneath side of the shingles. I'm guessing it was out of laziness because they didn't want to pop off the siding to do the job right and decided instead to just tar the heck out of the joint to prevent water from penetrating. I know this because I've been up in the attic and haven't seen in prior water damage in this area.

Flash forward to our residing job this spring and the two guys I hired to help me out in completing the job were siding this area while my wife and I were on vacation. When I got home, the chimney was sided and I guess I never thought to check the work to make sure it was up to my standards. So a few days ago when we were getting an heavy morning rain while I was sitting in the easy chair eight feet away from the nearby window, I noticed something wasn't right when there was a stream of water running down the window pane. This window sits up tight underneath a two feet overhang and shouldn't have any streams of water running down it other than what gets blown there by the wind and on this day, the rain was coming straight down.

So I got up and walked out in the rain on the deck to where I could peer above the window and I could see water running down the siding all the way up to where it intersected with the soffit. It was hard to tell but it looked like all the water was running down the outside of the siding and was coming from the soffit. Immediately it crossed my mind that something must be leaking where the chimney intersect with the roof just above this area but walking out on the roof during a thunderstorm doesn't come highly recommended. The next day was Sunday and we had a reunion to attend so it was a couple days before I got up on the roof.

The guys who helped me had cut through the tar to remove the old siding and resided the chimney but were evidently counting on the flashing to have been correctly installed to shed the water on top of the shingles. They obviously ignored all the tar on the shingles around the joint which say a different story. Fortunately I had a couple caulking tubes of shingle tar that I used to put a bead of tar to fill up this intersection. That will hold for the time being. For a longer solution, I need to grab a bucket of tar to fill in the dip between my new bead of tar and the mound of old tar six inches away to funnel the water away from the chimney instead of up next to the bead I just applied. A permanent solution is to re-shingle the house which since they shingles are only about four years old, doesn't really make a lot of sense if I can 'fix' the problem with some tar. The shingle job in other areas of the roof was done incorrectly and badly so I will have to do it sooner rather than later but I hope to get another handful of years out of the roof before then.

Now that I have it fixed, there isn't rain in the forecast for the next several days which is good because we don't need anymore right now but leaves me to ponder whether or not I fixed the problem or not. I imagine the next hard rain won't be until three in the morning so I'll have to set my alarm clock and spend the wee hours of the morning out on the deck with a flashlight checking to make sure the problem has been fixed.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Child Behavioral Modification Therapist... Again

Last week we started off the summer by sending my mother-in-law back overseas. Long time readers know that my mother-in-law retired several years ago and is attempting to become a United States Citizen but in order to do so, she has to spend the majority of five consecutive years here. Fortunately we have a walkout basement that I fixed up with her own little suite so we can get some separation when needed. It also helps to have someone else who can look after our daughters to allow me to get some bigger projects done around the house.

However she does have grandchildren back in the Philippines that need to see Grandma from time to time so she goes home to spend their summer break with them. This means I am back to being a stay at home dad or Child Behavioral Modification Therapist as I like to tell people when they ask. Nobody ever gets that joke until I let them in on my secret.

Our youngest is now approaching three years old with which comes a longer attention span so I am able to get larger and larger projects done without having to be with her constantly. It also helps that big sister is nine now and a big help with looking after her sister. I have tremendously enjoyed this extra time with my daughters that until a few years ago, I never could spend with them. I am able to play a board game with the oldest while the youngest is napping and I can play with the youngest while the oldest is doing her daily reading and piano lessons.

One drawback is that I don't get as much me time for the next couple months. I normally did my computer reading first thing in the morning before starting with my various projects. Now that I'm the one getting the girls going at the start of the day and trying to cram in smaller projects here and there, my computer stuff gets shoved to the late evening after they are in bed. As a result, I find that I'm too tired from time to time to check my blog list or even post something on my blog. Rest assured that I still care about your blog and this fall when my mother-in-law gets back in the States, I should be more active on here once again.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Garden Party


Being plugged into the Filipino community as I am, they like to get together about three or four times a year for a get together so that they can speak their native tongue and eat native food. Since almost all of them are female, we males of a different descent generally sit outside in lawn furniture sipping beers and talking among ourselves.

As we were sitting there, I noticed this cloud heading over the trees towards us. In today's smart phone world, a half dozen people pulled out there phones with radar apps and promptly declared that we were in for a bit of rain. I on the other hand decided we might be in for a bit of wind too and that perhaps we might start securing things and heading in doors.

The host of the part didn't seem to worried but after awhile, some of the ladies started picking up the buffet and carting it inside. It probably was five minutes later when the wind hit and hit us it did coming in somewhere around 70 to 80 mph I learned later. Darn near tornado status.

At first there was a bit of a panic among the kids and the Filipinos as people scrambled toward the door of the house. It was justifiable panic for seconds later the wind blew a large ladder propped up against a nearby building and almost squashed a few people but missed. After that, people had a bit more pep in their step. My biggest concern was from flying debris as the house where we were having our party tends to leave quite a bit of debris out in their yard all the time. Fortunately however, this storm came in over the pasture which was clean and gave us some eyesight so I just kept my eye upwind as I tried to help wrangle in all the lawn furniture and other party detriment that was quickly flying away.

Eventually we got things wrangled up as best as you can do in a gale and headed inside. However the house is small and we were probably nearing 60 or 70 in number and with the humidity of the storm, it was more like a sauna. I opted to go stand back outside under the roof with no sides where we were having our buffet and wait out the storm. Despite staying on the downwind side forty feet away from the upwind side, I still ended up getting plenty wet until the winds died down to respectable levels but at least it was comfortable temperature wise. This storm did end up producing some tornadoes and hail in other parts of Iowa but fortunately for us we only saw wind and 2 inches of rain in about 30 minutes.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Killing Time


After a week of driving around country roads looking for old barns to photograph while my daughter attended morning classes, I was looking to shake things up a bit. I came across this river southwest of town and after consulting a fisherman, I determined that it was the Skunk River. I am familiar with the river but from quite a ways farther west where one can just about jump across it. Along the Skunk I found a park that contained the old bridge seen above which is now just a pedestrian bridge with some park benches and a picnic table on it. I like these old iron bridges but the sign saying that a maximum of 100 people could be on the bridge gave me some notice. That doesn't seem like a lot of weight for a bridge.


The bridge, like many of its kind, was full of interesting decorative ironwork that you just don't see these days.


Downstream of the bridge about a 100 yards was what used to be a hydroelectric dam. If you had asked me if there were any dams on the Skunk river I would have told you absolutely not, much less dams that used to produce electricity. The dam had been defunct for many years by the looks of things but according to the fisherman poling for flatheads off of it, there had been talk about bringing it back to life.

The scary part of the dam was that there was absolutely no warning that it existed on the river and no cable or self-rescue device for a boater to save themselves before going over the brink. The way the water was flowing due to recent rains, I judged from passing stumps and logs like the one above, that you had about two minutes after coming around a nearby bend before going over the dam into the huge re-circulatory wave at the bottom that was full of logs that would have ground you into a bloody pulp. As someone who kayaks, those are one of the most dangerous things you can find on the river. I watched the above massive stump flow over the dam and recirculate for over 15 minutes before I tired of watching it and moved on. That is an eternity for a human to survive especially when most of that time would be spent under water.


On the upstream side of the hydro part of the dam, I saw a large tree trunk about 18 inches in diameter wedged against the dam and a huge whirlpool about two feet in diameter and going down deeper than I could see at the end of the log. While this might not kill someone, it would sure scare the bajeebers out of someone to get caught in one of those and sucked down.


After that first time at the dam, I came back a couple more days and spent lots of time parked on the other side of the river reading and watching logs and entire trees wash downstream over the dam. (Note you can see the hydro part of the dam in the background of the above picture.) The first tree I saw happened so fast that I didn't get any pictures and then I didn't see another one the rest of the day. On my final day, I happened to see one in plenty of time to get a series of pictures. You can see the base of it jutting out from the water after the edge of the dam and a large part of the upper structure in the far right of the photo.


The tree got caught up in the recirculating water beneath the falls and thrashed about there for about 15 minutes and was quite a site to see. I could hear deep booms from beneath the water as other logs mashed against it stripping it of much of its small branches and washing them off downstream. A couple times it got closed to the concrete jutty on my side of the river and I backed off for fear that the water might flip parts of it up onto the jutty and seriously injuring me.


Finally after 15 minutes of this and about 50 pictures on my part, the tree finally escaped the boil line beneath the dam about 30 feet which divided the recirculating part of the water from the water heading downstream. I took one parting shot of the tree as it made it's way south to the Des Moines river and then the Mississippi where it would likely spend it's life upstream of the river lock just south of their confluence.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Bullet and International Pens


During my garage sale, one of the people who bought a pen from me was intrigued when I told him I could make customized pens. He was into hunting so I told him that I could make a pen that came with bullet casings for ends and had a rifle clip and a bolt action to the ball point. He immediately said that he wanted one of those using deer antler. I looked through my catalog that night and got the parts ordered but it took me a month to get the parts and the time to make the pen for him. I actually made two because I wasn't sure what part of the antler he would like and in case I messed up making one since it would be my first time. Both turned out well so when he comes to pick up the one he wants here in a couple days, I will keep the other one as a display piece, especially since there is a huge deer hunting community in these parts.

Deer antler in interesting to work with. It has an extremely hard shell which plays heck on my lathe tools requiring me to sharpen then three or four times per pen instead of maybe once every two or three pens using wood. Also, as you get towards the root end of the antler, the center gets pithy which means I have to be really careful turning it or the whole thing will fly off in pieces. However if I take my time and get it turned, once I apply my superglue finish, it can gets some beautiful colors like the bottom one seen above. That is probably my most colorful antler to date and I really don't want to let it go but I know I can make another one if I find the right shed.

Out at the ends of the deer antler, they don't develop the soft pith in the center and keep a whiter color with pinkish tinges to it. Some people will bleach them to pure white but I like to keep the color as a reminder that it is deer and not ivory or some such. Also, to maximize the antler, I usually turn down some pretty small pieces which after drilling the center hole, means that the curve of the antler can show up on the pen barrel and not be completely round. That is the case with the upper pen shown above though it is mostly lost in the shadows on the bottom side of the pen. Personally I like the curvature because it reinforces that it is a handcrafted pen and not a store bought one.

I should also mention that I'm taking my hobby international and sold my first pen out of this country, plus shipping. I never really was aiming to do that since I think you need to see and feel the pens in person before plunking down money but the person who bought it has read my blog enough to trust me when I say it is worth it. Since their blog is on my sidebar, they may be reviewing it after they receive it. Whatever the review, I know it is going to a good home and it means that with that one and the custom one above, I not have the funds to order parts for another pen or two. I need to look through the catalog and see what catches my eye.