Thursday, July 07, 2011

The end of the race at the start of the 4th of July day

It was the start to a very full day:

After the race I checked my phone and the message on the phone indicated that out of town guests had arrived at our house. Dahlia was home alone and playing possum, so I called her and told her to let our guests in. I got home 15 minutes later, incidentally I realized on that trip that my car will travel at least 110 MPH.

After a quick shower, we all set-out on the bike path for town. I was hoping to see my wife and the other two daughters finish the 2-mile race from Drum Hill to the town center. Our guests, who live in Tokyo, marveled at how woodsy and natural the terrain surrounding the bike path is. They may have just been polite, but we really are lucky to live so close to it. We found all the girls at the finish area and then they drove home to take cool showers, it was really hot and humid that day, using our truck which was pre-positioned close by the finish. The rest of us found a good spot to watch the parade. It is not much by the standards of what big cities do, but it had a small-town charm of its own. After the parade, I called my wife and she swung around in the truck. All of this leaving cars at the end, walking and calling to be picked-up is due to the popularity of the parade: Tons of roads are closed and nearly every possible parking spot is taken.

After the parade, we got some lunch going: A pot of rice, grilled fish (salmon, sword and scallops) grilled shish kabobs, grilled corn and fresh fruits. Plus some really great sangria--which was my wife's first such attempt. Ah, yes and some fresh baked cookies.

After this, their daughter, who got along well with all three of ours, went to the pool club to swim. While they were swimming, we were invited to come in with our guests to Boston for the fireworks. Since they were staying there, their hotel would provide a place to park. The two ladies went before us to drop off their rental car, my wife was there to help navigate--stop laughing! Later, my friend and his kids plus our three ventured into town. The route I planned out turned out to be closed and so we had to improvise our way from roughly North Station to Kennmore Square. It all went fine and so I didn't feel so bad about not predicting that Storrow Drive would be closed, I mean--Duh!

Our friends took us to a place walking distance from their hotel and we had a family style meal of wildly diverse courses. Then we went to the Mass Ave bridge and waited for the fireworks. It was a long wait, but we all sat in a circle and played word games and told stories.

The show was amazing! and the walk back to their hotel was short. After recouping for a bit, we bade our goodbyes and set-out for home. The traffic was gridlocked in the direction of 93 so we took Commonwealth Ave along the marathon route until we got to 128. The green line trains travel on the surface between the on-coming lanes and two things were apparent: Those cars were packed! Even had there been parking at a T stop, riding those cars would've been hellish! The view of the trains as we traveled along in the same direction was quite picaresque, with all the passengers looking tired, crowded, hot and attired in Summer outfits and well-lit in the dark night by the fluorescent lights inside the train cars.

We stopped along the way home to pick-up the Saab at Drum Hill, the girls took it there to get to the start of the race. It seemed like the race was already many days in the past.

Finally, home! Doggy was happy to see her people again.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Swing Set

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Around 7 years ago, I put up a swing set. It was little more than a 16' beam strung between two trees and the swings, trapeze and rings bolted to the beam and hung by chain.

There were several things I did, which in retrospect I wished I had done differently but I figured that it was good enough. Certainly too good to justify tearing it down and re-doing it. One of the things I did was to use regular framing wood. I didn't like pressure treated wood and thought that if I coated the regular wood with preservatives then it would be fine. Not so. A week or so ago, serious rotting was detected via Surenna pulling a chain, associated hardware and some wood down from the structure when she tried to use the trapeze.

Last weekend I put up a new structure with the following changes:

--I used pressure treated wood.

--The beam is made from 6 2X6X8 boards. Last time, I bolted the boards together and I staggered them by having two intact pieces on the outside layers and one full length piece in the middle of the center section, a board cut in half made up the rest of the center section. This time I cut two of the boards in 1/3 and 2/3 lengths and staggered the pieces so that no place along the length had more than one junction. The boards were held together via industrial adhesive (liquid nails) and regular nails. The regular nails are essentially only clamps to hold the boards together until the adhesive set, though enough nails were used to hold the structure together all by themselves.

The old setup lasted 7 years with many design flaws. I expect to never have to change this one. This is a good thing since I seriously doubt I will be strong enough (in 10 years or so) to replicate the efforts of this past weekend. Each board of the pressure treated lumber weighs around 26 lbs and there was additional weight from the nails, glue and other hardware bolted on. The total was around 160 lbs, which is a bit more than the author of this blog weighs. I got the thing in place roughly 10' up, but I was at the limit of my strength and at the tail-end of my 40's, I'm not getting stronger.

Added: For one reason or another, even though this is a relatively uninteresting post, it accounts for about half my blog traffic. Rather than fight this, I have decided to adapt and post additional pictures and whatever other items I like into this one post. A sort of blog within a blog.

Some flowers that are growing around the house, arranged as "artfully" as I can manage.

A cherry coffee table, fabricated a couple of months ago.