Archive for December, 2012

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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Devastation in the Pot Shop

Devastation  in the Pot Shop

This is what it looked like on the inside. I’d show you pictures of all my equipment, but I’m just learning how to use this blog, and I can’t get it to show any more without everything getting mixed up. You probably don’t want to see them anyway. It’s not a pretty sight. But if you look in the left center of this picture, you’ll see my slab roller under the charred ladder-like thing, and the pug mill is way in the back on the right next to the window. The kiln and wheel are destroyed, even though the kiln’s insides are probably OK, it’s lost all of its wiring, the computer, the power assist on the lid, etc., etc.  It must be pretty clear that I’ve lost the building, too, but the amazing thing is that the fire did not go past the floor. Since my shop is on the second floor, we still have the wood shop underneath and the building around it. We’ve been able to walk on the floor to do the clearing, although there are a few holes you have to watch out for.

We’ve been spending the last few days clearing everything out and taking down the walls. We almost have the dumpster filled, and almost all the walls down. We are so blessed to have good friends who have put on their crud clothes and come out to help. They’re coming back tomorrow, and we’ll probably get everything down. Then we have to put a tarp over the top to keep the weather out  of the wood shop below. It got lots of water, so it looks like most of the damage there will be rust and such on the machinery. We’ve got a dehumidifier going 24 hours a day, and there are a couple of spots on the floor that are beginning to dry out.


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LickHaven Pottery Entrance

LickHaven Pottery Entrance

This is my workshop when it was first built in the fall of 2006. You can see the blue tarp on the deck, and Derek is on a ladder, working up in the rafters. Beautiful views out the windows made it such a pleasure to work in. If you look closely at the roof, you’ll see the rooster weathervane.
Today it looks like this:


     The fire was last Wednesday, Dec. 5. Derek noticed an odd black cloud hovering over our workshop about 9 am. When he looked on the first floor (his wood working shop, he realized it was smoke, but there was nothing in there. So he ran up the hill to the second floor (LickHaven Pottery, my workshop) opened the door and was blasted with heat and saw flames. He closed the door and ran down the hill to the house, shouting to me to “Call 911! The pot shop is on fire.” It seemed to take forever for the 911 operator to pick up, and then she had many, many questions, but probably was only a minute or so before she said the firemen were on the way. They were afraid to take the bigger truck across the bridge that leads to our driveway, so they came up in the smaller one. They almost had the fire out when they ran out of water and had to call for a second truck. It probably only took 20 minutes or so for the second truck to come and for them to get a hose down to the pond, but it that time, the fire regathered its resources and was roaring out through the roof with flames that must have been 15 feet high. I regret that I didn’t remember I had a camera until it was almost out. It was an awesome and terrifying sight. I was afraid we would lose our house as well, as it is only about 50 feet from the workshop. By 11:30, the firemen had quelled the flames and sprayed some kind of foam over everything. Before they left, they told us to call them if it began to burn again. They did have to come back, but it was easily put out.