Summer Lightning

Here in Tucson, monsoon season means thunderstorms.  Thunder is the audible effect of lightning.

Of course, there are often other effects when lightning reaches the ground.

Lightening struck this property wall.

Lightning struck this property wall.

Yes, it was pretty loud inside the house.  Sheryl was closest to the point where it struck.  It got her attention.

Look close to see the steel reinforcing bar that was our lightening rod.

If you look closely, you can see the steel reinforcing bar that was our volunteer lightning rod.

When lightning strikes, it vaporizes the water near the point of impact creating a steam explosion.

From outside the wall, it looks more dramatic.

From outside the wall, it looks more dramatic.

Steam explosions result in tremendous forces.  In this case the block wall suffered.  Pieces of the wall were hurled toward the street and the house.

Unfortunately, there is a window nearby.

Unfortunately, there is a window nearby.

The pieces of the wall that landed in the middle of the street were impressive, but caused no additional damage.  Pieces of the wall that struck the house had this unhappy effect.

From inside the house, the effects are impressive.

From inside the house, the effects are impressive.

Fortunately, only the outer layer of the double insulated glass cartridge was breached.  The house remained dry inside.

Impressive damage to the outer layer of glass.

A closer look at the damage to the outer layer of glass.

The damage looks almost surreal when first viewed from inside the house.  The fact that the house remained weather tight makes us even more grateful for our Integra Block Wall® construction.

We have contacted our favorite window guy who has worked magic in the past.

Most of the pieces of the shattered wall have been gathered up.  During the next few days, we have a great jigsaw puzzle to assemble.

Historical Progress Report for Thursday, August 14th – The Garage Door Opener was also a casualty.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, the strike also destroyed the electronics in the garage door opener.  Rather than wait for $100 worth of replacement parts, we have replaced the entire opener at a little more than double the cost.

The new unit has some nice new features, but does not recognize any of our older remotes, some of which were added for convenience and will be replaced.

We will probably purchase a replacement circuit board and repair the damaged unit.  It is too new to simply give up on and has a wonderfully convenient backup battery system that allows normal opener operation during a power outage, as does the new unit.

Historical Progress Report for Friday, August 15th – The Irrigation System did not survive the strike.

Wilting plants signaled that the strike also destroyed the electrical components of the irrigation system.  The two $10 solenoids for the control valves were relatively easy to replace.  Having learned a lesson from the last lightning experience that damaged the irrigation system, we have been keeping a replacement irrigation controller circuit board on hand.

The system is now back to normal.

Yes, we will be haunting eBay looking for another obsolete circuit board as a spare.

Historical Progress Report for Friday, August 15th – Progress on Repairing the Wall.

Outer wall layer pieces have been glued in place.

Outer wall layer pieces have been glued in place.  Relatively simple stucco repairs will be next.

We have made significant progress with our jigsaw puzzle especially here on the outside where the pieces were mostly intact.

The inside layer was pulverized by the blast and will need to be replace.

The white adhesive visible here is a silicone caulk with which we have had excellent results during past stucco repairs.

The inside is more of a challenge.  New blocks are needed to replace the nearly vaporized, inner side of the wall.

Update on Saturday, August 16th – More Progress on the Wall.

Oddly colored replacements to for the original, brown colored concrete wall blocks.

Oddly colored replacements to for the original, brown colored concrete wall blocks.

This block is what Home Depot had on hand.  Yes, we probably should have sought out the right colored material, but we were too impatient.  Besides, perfect results seemed unlikely, even with the correct replacement blocks.

We may eventually cover the entire area with a large, decorative tile.

A more expedient than professional looking stucco repair.

A more expedient than professional looking stucco repair.

In the meantime, Bob, our neighbor across the street with significant construction management experience, has provided some last minute guidance and demonstrated the use of a float trowel on our small stucco repair.  We would undoubtedly have achieved better results if we had sought him out sooner.

However, the good news is that we should be ready to paint tomorrow morning.

Update on Sunday, August 17th – Our Wall Repairs are Complete.

An early morning view of freshly painted stucco.

An early morning view of freshly painted stucco.

Although they are nearly close enough to make Sheryl happy, the freshly painted wall colors do not match perfectly.

Arizona sunlight improves everything.

Arizona’s bright sunlight improves everything.

After three hours of drying time, the paint looks better and should continue to improve over time.

Full late afternoon sunlight shows the wall in a better light.

Full late afternoon sunlight shows the wall in a better light.

As sunset approaches, the wall appears to be back to normal.  Hmm, notice the small thunderstorm visible in the distance.

In any event, we are now officially finished repairing the damage to the wall from the lightning strike.

Spring Visitors – Migration 2014

Today was one of those magical spring mornings when the cool early morning air is filled with bird songs, mostly from migrants.

Here are two of the several nice pictures that Sheryl managed to take.

A visiting pair of Black Headed Grosbeaks

A visiting pair of Black Headed Grosbeaks

Of course this guy thinks he is the prettiest

Of course this guy thinks he is the prettiest

Sheryl says, “We had nearly every color of the rainbow with red represented by a Pyrrhuloxia and a Cardinal, orange in the Bullock’s Orioles, yellow in the Lesser Goldfinches and Yellow-rumped Warblers, green in a Green-tailed Towhee, blue in the small flock of Lazuli Buntings, and violet in the frequently seen male Costa’s Hummingbirds.”

Porte Cochere Blues

Our neighborhood was built by David Baird Homes.  They were a small company who tried to distinguish themselves from the competition by building “high quality, innovative designs” with interesting architectural features.  All of the several “semi-custom” local designs incorporate longer than average driveways and a porte cochere.

While they are a graceful addition to [...]