Lumbering along

A crew has been lumbering the shit out of the area lately because the Chinese are paying twice what the local sawmills do for hardwood. It’s shipped over, sawn (some to thinsy-winsy veneers), processed, then shipped back for I’m not sure what. Home Depot? All the loyal “buy American, support our country” locals have their hands out for Chinese checks with no problem. (Don’t blame ’em whatsoever).

Our little woods might have a few trees worth something, but talking to Rick, the deforester boss (who I liked a lot – open, straightforward guy), he’d have to rip our ten acres to flinders to get to them. I like trees better than people, so why the hell for a few bucks?

His crew was cutting on the 4th of July. He expects the Chinese price to go down and/or he has a deadline to meet and/or a bonus for early delivery. Guys like him I can respect for working their asses off 7 days a week, being honest about what they’re doing.

He seems to know everything I could imagine about trees (even though he left devastation behind at our uphill neighbor’s – not that Ralph would care). He told me that damned near every species of local tree is in danger of obliteration of one sort or another. We’re already having almost total loss of the beech, elm and ash population, with at least three types of threat to the hemlock – the major native tree.

He knows the stupidity of how the world works and what the result might be – almost total deforestation, because we’ve introduced every possible killer insect, fungus, etc., worldwide.

It will even out eventually, I suppose, but long after you and I have added our bones or ashes to the soil – which should do a little good.

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My Lyme is your Lyme

As some of you may know, Linda has Lyme Disease, which was treated for a month with antibiotics strong enough to leave her almost immobile a good deal of the time. She seems fine now, but it could come back. It’s hell to get rid of – maybe impossible (see below).
Lyme has become a true scourge up here, and apparently in other areas of the U.S. and other parts of the world. I don’t think it’s exaggerating to call it a hidden plague. The symptoms run the gamut from itching to rashes to muscle ache to fever to, so help me, brain malfunction, which makes it hard to diagnose – you get the supposedly “typical” rash and bullseye in only about 15% of cases. That’s also left it remarkably unrecognized overall, even up here: Pennsylvania is the epicenter for Lyme, with roughly a third of the cases reported across the country. And the test for it gives a lot of both false positives and false negatives (Linda came up negative the first time, then with one of the highest positive readings our doc had ever seen two months later).
The woman who published my first book (a PA native) has dropped out of publishing to get a more lucrative job because her husband had undiagnosed Lyme for years and can’t work regularly. With Tammy, who runs the embroidery shop in town, it affected her brain to the point she thought she was going crazy or getting early dementia before it was diagnosed. I’ve now talked to 5 or 6 others in which it chugged along, unrecognized, with lasting, debilitating effects.
It gets into areas of the body with low blood flow where it “hides” from the immune system and is seldom fully cured. So far, there’s no vaccine because it’s crept under the health radar while zika got all the publicity (and funds). If you’re not pregnant, Lyme looks like a far more virulent bastard than zika.
Don’t you love to get the latest apocalyptic health news?


Buckets and Buckets

Buckets and Buckets

I’ve saved 3 buckets and one milk crate of things salvaged from the fire–mostly kiln posts. Yesterday and today I scrubbed them all off and they’re now drying on the kitchen counter. I was also able to save most of the kiln shelves. They’re out by the wood kiln, along with some silica, nepheline syenite and Hawthorne clay that may be still usable. Don’t know about that because all the bags broke, and it’s difficult to tell if they’re really OK to use. One white powder looks pretty much like another white powder, and how do you know if they’ve gotten mixed up?


big city scape

It sort of looks like a city scape if you can ignore the spices, sauces and oils behind them. I think I’ll probably have to put everything through a firing to get all the soot off. That won’t be until next spring. In the meantime, I’ll be making little things in our old bathroom–actually, it isn’t the old bathroom yet–the new bathroom is not yet finished, so I still have some time to wait before I can play in the mud again.

In the meantime, I can write blogs and play on the computer where I am daily visited–usually several times a day–by our friendly, neighborhood red squirrel family. I only have a picture of the baby–who is now quite adult–because he’s the one who comes and checks me out. I know he can see me, just as I can see him, and he is immensely curious about what I am and what I am about. I got a picture of him the other day.

Hello again!

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Organization, man, organization!

I’ve spent the last three or four days going through all my financial files and my memory files, trying to get a handle on everything that was destroyed in the pot shop. It’s pretty clear to me that I’ll never remember everything, but at least I’m trying.


As you can see, I’ve got piles of paper everywhere and yes, I keep losing the piece of paper I need now, and then finding it in the pile it doesn’t belong in. Thank god I’ve got a wonderful, calming view out of my window. I can look out and take a breath. It helps me keep things in proportion. What I’m going through now is really only one little piece of my life. Anyway, here’s the view.


Last night I asked Derek to go over the list to get his comments and whatever he might remember that I can’t, so I’m thinking I’m really almost done with this part, anyway.

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Settling in for the Long Haul


We’ve come back to LickHaven in the middle of a big storm. It makes everything beautiful, but if we’re going to keep the machinery on the first floor of the workshop usable, we’ve got to keep the snow off. We used push brooms to get it off–not nearly as bad as shoveling, but still a workout. It’s snowing again. So far, we’ve swept it off twice today and the snow is still coming down.


Here’s how it looked before we did the second sweeping today. One thing leads to another–we’ve gotten the snow off the top, now we’re going to have to figure out how to get at the firewood that’s now covered with the snow we pushed off.

Our dogs are enjoying the snow anyway. Leiao likes to bite it.


And my wood kiln looks marvelous covered in snow.


I’m spending lots of time trying to remember everything I had in the shop so I can make a list. It’ll be useful for insurance and I’ll be able to plan what I don’t want in the new shop.

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The Blue Whale

Tarp from the house

This is how the workshop looks from our house. That’s a 30′ x 50′ tarp and it’s really blue. Unfortunately, even though Derek has nailed it down, it still lets some water through when it’s raining. So far, he’s spent two nights going out every couple of hours to try to sweep the standing water off of it while it was raining. I was asleep the first night, but last night, I went out and held the flashlight for him. He said it really helped to be able to see–very difficult to hold a flashlight and sweep at the same time. It helps somewhat, but we have to have barrels and buckets under the leaks in the woodshop. We’ve covered all the machinery with tarps and have a dehumidifier going all the time. It is somewhat drier than it was, but there are still lots of big wet spots.

Tarp and Derek

Here he is with the broom in the daytime. We can’t walk on the deck, it’s too burned. Looks like we’d go right through. Note the boards on the top of the ramp. Note also, that big lump under the tarp in the middle. That’s my kiln. We had hoped that putting it in the middle like that would create enough of a slant that the water would pour off. Unfortunately, the edges are a couple of inches higher than the middle, so we get the puddles around the edges that need to be swept off.

This morning it started snowing. Although I’m worried about how the snow will affect everything, I still love how it looks and feels. This evening there’s still a bit on the ground, but it’s mostly gone. We want to visit our sister-in-law who lives in Mendenhall, PA, about 200 miles from here. We were going to go today, but were so exhausted we were afraid to drive–maybe tomorrow. I do not want this fire to be in command of everything we do. I am concerned about leaving for a few days, but I don’t want our holiday plans to be completely scrapped. Whatever happens, we will have to find ways to deal with it.

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Clearing out the crap


Hail the conquering heroes! After a week of work, the 2nd floor walls are down, and we’re ready to put the tarp over the floor to protect the wood shop on the first floor!
Thank you friends!

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