A sucker for history 

I’m spending the weekend in Alexandria, Va, and I’m wandering the streets of Old Town. I’m a complete sucker for plaques and this kind of stuff. It amazes me to stand on the same stone steps that George Washington stepped on to enter this tavern and give his first speech as President. It can take me all day to make it a block by the time I’m done exploring each plaque and building. My wife enjoys it for an hour or so and the kids are looking for ice cream in five minutes. As an old art history man, I love the architectural details, too. Even something like this two hundred year-old clapboard is great. Do you think the houses we toss up today will last two hundred years? When I started framing houses as a young guy we used what we called straight-grained fir for house walls in the Pacific NW.

That’s fir on the left and hemlock on the right. Note the difference?

The grain was so tight that you couldn’t count the rings. Saw blades lasted only a few days since the wood was so hard. Now we use hemlock that is farm-grown for speedy harvesting. You can usually court five or six rings and I can break it over my knee.

So there’s my old man chat. Have a great weekend while I sneak down into this basement and check out the grout in this foundation made of field stone.