When Art Explodes (or firing up the new ceramics kiln)

I’ve been wanting one ever since college; which was [cough] a long time ago.

After getting settled into my house where I finally have room (a great basement and a detached garage for future expansion) I started checking craigslist for used kilns and potters wheels every few weeks. They were all either too expensive or too far away.

I finally got lucky and found a small old Duncan kiln that would plug into regular household current (didn’t have time or energy to wire up 220 in the basement) and an old ( and virtually indestructible) Shimpoo RK-2 potters wheel just across the bridge.

Before I committed to the sale, I checked around and discovered that Paragon, who purchased Duncan had the manuals online for download and still sold parts, so that sealed the deal.

Although my manual was not available online, I emailed Paragon and was sent the correct manual for my kiln. That’s pretty awesome customer service!

My dance friend Jason rode out with me to pick them up and helped me schlep them into the basement.

I decided that I didn’t want to develop bad habits on the wheel since it had been so long since I had used one, so I signed up for classes at Throwing Mud Gallery and it didn’t take too long to get the feel for it again.

Once I was confident that I knew what I was doing again, I started playing on the wheel.

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I threw what I thought was a decent bowl and got it trimmed up.

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Firing an old manual kiln takes work, calculations, practice and more than a bit of luck…

There is no computer to ramp up, hold or cool down so you must pay attention. It has a kiln sitter which holds a pyrometric cone or bar designs to melt as certain fireing temperatures known as “cones”. If adjusted properly, when the bar or cone melts a lever drops which shuts the kiln off. There is also a safety timer which will shut the kiln off after a certain amount of time in case the kiln sitter does not work.

Here’s a shot of the kiln sitter from inside the kiln.

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and after a firing to cone.

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With the timer set, the cone in the kiln sitter and my first home made creation inside, it was time to fire up the kiln.

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The next morning I was super excited to see what I would find.


I found one blown up pot. The bottom was blown off and what was left was in tiny pieces. It must have been an impressive explosion.

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At least when I mess up, I do it big.

Of course, we learn more from our mistakes than from our successes. I learned several things from this.

First, make certain that the pot is bone dry, or candle it first (fire on low setting with lid propped open to dry it out, which will wear the kiln elements out early).

Next, ramp up the heat very slowly. (kind of a pain with a manual kiln, but better than having to vacuum up pottery shards.

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After doing some reading and talking to Mark at Throwing Mud, I threw another pot, dried it fully and tried again with a slow, three stage ramp up.

This time it was SUCCESS!

I got a lovely, bisque fired pot ready to be glazed.

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and more ready to go in for the next firing once they are trimmed up…

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I really didn’t want to mess up the glaze firing, so I was very careful with my ramp up and cool down.

The next morning, I discovered an intact glazed pot 🙂
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I did a little happy dance after that.

This pot is under fired which is no biggie, I can just refire it. What would have been bad would have been blowing it up, or melting it to the shelf.

My little ancient Craigslist kiln will fire some glazes to perfection, but just doesn’t have quite enough ooomph for high fire glazes, the only ones which are certified food safe. Since I want to create functional art, I want my plates/bowls/bottles to be food safe.

So I got an awesome deal on this Paragon Xpress 1193 High Fire Kiln (aka “My Precious”)

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This means that I can use my cute little Craigslist Duncan kiln for bisque firing and the Paragon for glaze firing. Just like a “real” studio.

Soon, I will be able to turn out things like this at home (although I’ll still do some studio time at Throwing Mud because I like everyone there 🙂

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If you need me, I’ll be down in my basement in my studio.

Oh, how wonderful it is to be able to say that after all these years.


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Birth of a Fairy Garden

When I first purchased my home in May of 2010, the Southeast corner of the yard behind the garage was a jungle; the Hawthorne and huge old pear tree were being choked to death by an invasive species of Clematis vine known as Old Man’s Beard.

From The Life and Times of A Wild Celtic Rose

In November of that year, my beautiful (and huge) old pear tree blew down in a violent wind storm.

November 15th wind storm 009

Since then, this “forgotten” part of the yard, not sunny enough to support garden beds or fruit trees (and still a battle ground for the dreaded clematis vines trying to regrow) has been left in neglect other than two marionberries being trained to grow up trellises on the back garage wall.

Until lately.

It started out innocently enough with three shade loving rhododendrons in the far corner.

Then I learned that crabapple trees will tolerate less then full sun, so I got a good sized one (tall enough for the branches to get sun) and plopped it in the same corner.

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Azaleas… Yeah, and Camellias… That’s what the corner needed as well.

Oooh, Cyclamen, Begonias (tuberus), Periwinkle and some Foxglove for the fairies were also perfect for this little corner.

I found this lovely bench…

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I also scored a fabulous bird bath…

Then the fairies started moving in, which was just a matter of time, as they love the Hawthorne and foxglove and are said to ride Corgis at night.

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Soon Hellebores and Fuchsias appeared (as did more fairies)

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So did Tulips, Daffodils and Winter Heather (Heath) in the sunny areas around the Hazelnut tree…

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It was apparent who was “running the show” out there, so appropriate signage was posted.

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This tree ent arrived.

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and his friend the Bay Laurel ent showed up on the other side of the yard for good measure.

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The area had been transformed just in time for Spring…

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All of the residents seemed quite happy to be there.

Except this one…

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It became very clear that she was not a garden fairy. She was fierce, a guardian… a….


So she now watches over the entrance to my home in her rightful place.

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If she deters solicitors and proselytizers, all the better 😉

No worries, the back has not been let unguarded.

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I am looking forward to hosting BBQs, teas and garden parties and watching this area bloom and grow.

~ L

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One More Step Towards Regaining My Perfect Health-Home Made Almond Milk

I’m so lucky that after surgery on my uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes that no cancer was found.

I don’t want any more surgery and I want to get off the blood pressure medication (my doc thinks that stress from the former job, medical scares, as well as chronic pain from the girly bit surgeries, wisdom tooth extractions, dental, perio and ortho work was the biggest issue)

In addition to getting back on a normal workout schedule (as soon a I’m done recovering from surgery; right now, the best I can do is walking 3-4 miles a day) I am making an effort to make as many healthy (non-fanatical) dietary changes as I can that will assist with discouraging the growth of fibroid tumors and endmetriosis and get me off of the blood pressure medication.

As soon as the blood pressure issue reared its ugly head (after having a perfect blood pressure up until very recently) I immediately went off my hormonal birth control and caffeine. (yeah, cold turkey, both at once) and stopped rinsing my mouth that was being torn up by the new braces with salt water.

I also got serious about getting back to my normally very healthy eating habits which went to heck over the holidays (I was a naughty monkey); rarely eating out, no processed foods (I even make my own chicken stock) whole grains (always brown rice, and more often than not, I make my own whole wheat pasta) eating organic eggs from my backyard hens, growing my own fruit and veggies in season, being very careful about sodium (I don’t generally salt my food or add much in cooking, but I’m being aware) and of course, I can always do better about eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. I’ve read a lot (from credible sources) about the health benefits of black strap molasses, so I’ve started using a tablespoon a day in my morning lattes (healthier than vanilla and caramel syrups right?)

I decided that I also wanted to switch to almond milk for my morning lattes

Oh, no… I am not going completely diary free. You can have my cheese when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers and I do try to eat organic yogurt with live cultures several times a week.

I scored some Almond Breeze the other day, and discovered that I really like almond milk. But it’s expensive and the commercial stuff contains additives that I don’t want.

So I decided to make my own (it’s stupid easy)

First, I soaked one cup of raw almonds in water. You can do it from 8 – 24 hours; since these were older almonds, I went for the full 24.

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It’s important to rinse the almonds well and discard the soaking water, as it contains tannins from the skin that will make the end product unpleasant.

I added the now well swollen almonds and four cups of filtered water (4-1 ratio) to the food processor.

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If you want unsweetened almond milk, that’s all you need to add.

I opted to add six dates. The only thing I’d do differently is to soak/soften them first so that they didn’t gum up the food processor blades and a splash of vanilla extract. You can also add cocoa powder or nibs for chocolate milk or any fruit that you like..

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After blending in the food processor or blender if you don’t have one for two to five minutes, it’s ready to strain.

*as it turns out, the food processor wasn’t the correct tool to use for this-virtually none of them handle this much liquid without leaking from the top or bottom-I will be using a blender next time

You can use cheesecloth or specially sold nut milk bags, but I used my jelly strainer. I’m guessing that is what they are selling as nut milk bags.

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You’ll need to let it hang for some time, and to give the bag a good squeeze every once in a while. Once it’s done, you’ll have finely ground nuts which you can process into nut butter, or dry and use in granola or desert toppings

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What you are left with, is some super yummy, healthy, inexpensive almond milk.

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I’m calling this first attempt a “win” and now, don’t need to buy almond milk.



What a Cheeky Bird

In addition to now owning six chickens and hosting a wide variety of wild birds in my (now certified wildlife habitat) yard, I’ve added a new avian friend to the mix.

Meet the newest resisdent of Phoenix Grove “Cheeky” (who’s a cheeky bird?)

Cheeky is a female cockatiel and approximately one year old.

From Drop Box

Now the amusing part of this story is how it came to be…

I was running errands with my friend and neighbor Francine and one of the stops was PetsMart for the uber expensive cat food we both have to feed our older cats.

On the way out, we stooped to look at the birds. I haven’t had birds for almost 30 years and had been planning on getting one again, once I was settled into a house.

Since this trip was for Francine’s cat food, I blame her ?

I don’t buy animals from pet stores, I adopt.

The next morning (when I should have been cleaning my house) I perused Craigslist and found a family selling a cockatiel, cage, toys, etc… for a very reasonable price, so I went to check it out.

I ending up “rescuing” her from the house which contained a grabby four year old. Actually, the people who had her were super nice and good to her, they just didn’t know anything about birds and the older child who said he’d take care of it, clean the cage, etc… didn’t.

They also thought she was a he. The kids called her “Commando”.

I wasn’t sure about the age or sex after seeing her behavior and the barred markings on her tail (all juveniles have them, but after the 6-month molt the males lose the markings) so I found out what pet store they got her from, called them and determined her age, which also determined her sex.

Despite her not being trained by “bird people” and having a small child grabbing at her constantly; she was quite sweet and cuddled up to and kissed her primary care giver (Dad) She was not “bitey” and even stepped up onto my finger and let me hold her. This spoke very well to her temperament despite the fact that she only really liked one person.

The bird was hilarious on the ride home; I was afraid that she might be scared so I kept saying “Pretend you’re flying”; after a while, she climbed over to my side of the cage and started whistling at me.

When I got her home the first day, I just “let her be” to get used to her new space. She was naturally a bit nervous so I wanted to let her settle down before handling her so as not to stress her out. I have her in the living room so that her cage is near where I sit most often so that she gets used to me being her “flock”.

I spent most of that afternoon/evening gently talking and singing to her.

I don’t think I’ll have to worry about the BadKitty getting near the cage; When she (the kitty) walked into the room, Cheeky hissed at her. The cat was not amused and much prefers to keep her distance and watch “her” birds (aka Kitty TV) out the front window as they dine at the bird feeders.

Yesterday, she chirped a greeting to me when I walked in the door; this indicated to me that she was getting more relaxed and that I could start working with her. I stopped off after my eye doctor appointment and got her some treats (poor thing had never been given fruits/veggies/millet spray or any other treat)

After she was done chowing down on the millet spray, I decided to see if she was comfortable enough with her new home and me to step onto my finger. She was slightly hesitant at first, but she did hop up there.

From Drop Box

We did this four times last night; I’m keeping it to short sessions at first.

I need to get a perch for the top of the cage as she doesn’t care to be up there just walking on the wire.

Tonight, I’ll close BadKitty up in my room for a bit and allow her to explore the basement (she is always trying to go down there when I don’t want her to) while I bring Cheeky out to sit with me after dinner.

I got a short video of one of our sessions. (sorry, no biting 😉

I’ve had birds before, but have been doing a lot of reading up on them to re familiarize myself.

A resource that I highly recommend is Cockatiel Cottage.net (go ahead, give it a click) where there is a wealth of information for novice as well as experienced bird owners.

So yeah… I may not be a crazy cat lady, but I think I am well on my way to becoming a crazy bird lady.



One Year Ago Today – The Evolution of a Hilltop Home

In the interest of providing a bit of background, this is a blog entry from April 17tn 2010

I can’t rant today.

I can only Do the Happy Dance!!!

I am approved for a modest home loan to buy a modest house in a gritty Tacoma neighborhood.

Ideally, it will be a cute little craftsman fixer upper.

I will have a garden and a greenhouse again.

I will have bird feeders so that BadKitty (an indoor cat) will again be able to watch birds (her favorite activity), chatter and run around like a maniac. (maybe she’ll drop some of her “small apartment pudge”)

I will have a guest room so my friends can have a comfortable place to sleep when they come visit.

I will have a real dining room in which to serve my (day after) Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve meals to friends.

I will have a hot tub and a BBQ grill (I have budgeted for these)

I will no longer share walls (or ceilings or floors) with people not of my choosing.

At this time last year, I could not even imagine this.

I am going house shopping today after work.

One year ago today, the plan dream I laid out here came true (and then some).

One year ago today, I closed escrow on my gritty little house on Tacoma’s hilltop.

Not only do I have the old house with the original wood floors, dining room for entertaining, fabulous garden and a kitty who is happy, healthy and fit, I have found a wonderful community up here.

Words can’t do the last year justice, so I put it to music in a slide show…

In a weak attempt at words, I wrote this last June


This old house has stood for nearly 100 years
It was occupied by Italian immigrants in 1917
It housed families during the great depression
It has seen troops return from two world wars

This old house was built from the forests of the Pacific Northwest
Its beams are thick and sturdy
Its floors are old growth Douglas Fir
Its roof grows moss if not well maintained

This old house is in a historic neighborhood
It has been the home of the Crips gang
It has fallen into disrepair
It has been lovingly restored

This old house is guarded by lion statues in the front
Its old Bay Laurel tree in the back is home to a nest of crows
It is in a vibrant, revitalized community
It is surrounded by friendly, caring, proactive neighbors

This old house will be warm and welcoming
it will host many holiday gatherings
it will offer hospitality to friends, family and neighbors
it will be filled with love

This old house is flawed
This old house is beautiful
This house is a work in progress
This old house is loved

If only this old house could talk


Mood: Happy


Random Updatey Goodness and Website Redesign

This update is so random, I’m not even tagging it “tacoma” to show up on feedtacoma.com.

I’ve been terribly remiss about blogging and sending email updates to my non-blog reading friends; it’s not that I haven’t been doing anything, it’s that I’ve been so stinking busy, I haven’t had time to update. [BAD Lisa]

I’ve been busy with the day job, the magazine gig and of course, the fire spinning.

I’m performing on Friday night for what promises to be a very fun all girl 50th Birthday party where I’ll get to spin fire on the beach and enjoy the company of very cool women, good food and cocktails.

I realized that I didn’t have any business cards that didn’t have outdated contact info and didn’t have time to print any new ones up, so after I ordered some which now include photography, writing and fire spinning (which won’t arrive in time for Friday) I just edited an image, added some text and got them printed up as wallet size photos.

*dear stalkers-don’t get excited; this is a googlevoice number that does NOT ring to my phone and on which I can block you.

I also updated my website; you can check it out here at WildCelticRose.net

I’ve been having a BLAST spinning fire, and have some great mentors, Deanna, Becki, Cathy and Tabitha. It’s going to be an amazing summer performing.

Becki has taken some very cool photos…

You should check out her other work at Stardragon Photography

Obligatory Fire Spinning Video…

if the video does not embed properly in you reader or browser you can view it by making with the clicky clicky here

The garden is doing well, although I’m not certain when I’ll be able to take my peppers out of the greenhouse. If it wasn’t for having heat mats and grow lights in the basement, a greenhouse and wall-o-water insulators, I would not have tomatoes this year.

Here is the Juliet tomato (parent to the grape tomato) I started from seed in the basement.

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I’m super excited about the asparagus bed. Anyone who has ever been over here in the summer, knows how much I like to grill salmon and asparagus. I have to leave the plants alone this year to let them establish. Since they are already two year old crowns, I can start harvesting next year. It is taking all the self control I have not to snap off some tasty spears.

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The Liberty and Braeburn apple trees are blooming (if the SummerRed doesn’t bloom soon, I’d best hope for a neighbor growing a pollinator-wouldn’t a late summer bearing variety bloom before the varieties that ripen later?)

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It looks to be a good year for blueberries

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The cold wet winter and spring seem to have been good for the cherries. (note to self, get bird netting)

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Speaking of cherries, the Kwanzan flowering cherries I planted in the front yard are blooming.

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The hard work I put in planting 704 flower bulbs sure paid off, as soon as the daffodils were done, the tulips took over.

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A VERY special treat have been the stunning parrot tulips I planted in honor of my dear friend Karen who lost her brave battle with cancer last December.

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The chickens are fat, sassy and naughty. As you can see, MaryAnn has gotten into the garden area.

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As you can see from the following video, the chicken round ups are becoming rather routine.

if the video doesn’t embed properly in your reader/browser, you can view it by making with the clicky clicky here

One week from today will be the one year anniversary of escrow closing on this old house.

I shall be hosting a houseiversary celebration soon (well as soon as we get a decent day for a BBQ)




What a difference a year makes

I just realized that a year ago Saturday, I made the offer on this old house.

The back yard is no longer a hardpan dumping ground for trash, rotting furniture, junk vehicles or broken television sets overgrown with grass and weeds; its’ a small urban farm. (OK, the grass is a little long right now, but it hasn’t been dry enough to mow.

Although it hasn’t fully “sprung” (pun intended) to life for the season, it is a great improvement.

Out of the nine fruit trees I planted: three apple, three cherry, plum, peach, and a pear to replace the 100 year old one that came crashing down in November’s wind storm, the new Oregon Curl Free peach is the first to bloom.

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The Italian Prune Plum is not far behind.

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The asparagus bed is planted (yes, the plants are upside down in the picture, but they aren’t planted that way)

From Drop Box

and the strawberry beds are weeded and cleaned up (I still have a dozen or so strawberry plants I need people to come get; they are trying to take over)

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the “cold weather” crops, lettuce, peas, brocolli are doing fine in the greenhouse and are almost ready to move outside (if icy death would quit falling out of the sky)

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the peppers and tomatoes are doing well with the heat mat on only at night; hopefully I’ll be able to turn that off soon. (if the weather ever cooperates, yeah right…)

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My lilacs that arrived from Rain Tree Nursery bare root a few weeks ago are budding out and one is already starting to bloom.

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The front yard was weeds and some really ugly “two man” rocks someone had painted white thinking it was “decorative”.

It’s full of flowers now…

These (several hundred) bulbs were a pain to plant (I dug them good and deep so they’d come back every year) but it’s paying off now (and I’ll never have to do it again)

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The special parrot tulips that I planted in honor of mine and Bonnie’s friend Karen who tragically lost her battle with cancer this year are getting ready to bloom as well.

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The crocus and muscari I planted in the parking strip are adding some cherry color around the flowering cherry trees as well. (the Kwanzan trees will bloom next month, along with my pink flowering dogwood)

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I still have a lot of work to do, but it’s such a great improvement over this time last year.


Mood: Happy


the end of an era (a century actually)

One of the joys of owning an historic home is the repair and restoration work that constantly needs to be done.

The “bones” of these 100 year old houses are solid. They were built out of real wood and our attics reveal beefy beams.

The plumbing, electrical and masonry work, eventually fail.

Such is the case of the chimney in my wonderful old home on the hilltop

It does not vent the grand fireplaces of the North end.

The hilltop was the immigrant and working class neighborhood of those who built Tacoma, the port, the rails, the timber industry. My home was built by Italian immigrants from Cicely at the turn of the century.

My four story chimney is in the center of the house and is an integral part of the structure.

It begins in the basement where an antique ash clean out door and old vents grace the base of the structure. It continues on to the main floor with it’s 12 foot ceilings where it served as ventilation for the cook and heating stoves. It continues on into the enormous and extremely tall finished attic and then protruded well over six feet from the highest peak of the steep Victorian pitches of the roof.

And it was failing. Water was seeping through the old bricks and the mortar which was little more than loose sand into my upstairs room.

The only thing it was venting (or could vent) is the gas furnace and gas water heater.

To rebuild it, would be well over $6,000. Possibly more. (at least $4,000 just for labor)

As much as I love the historic character of my home, I could not justify that much money (that I didn’t have) to preserve something that even in good shape was a serious earthquake hazard. It would never accept ventilations from a wood stove should I choose to install one, along with what it was already venting

So I made the difficult decision to have the top part of the chimney knocked down and a pipe run though the three story portion in the house to vent the appliances.

Since the chimney is part of the central structure, I had the portion in the basement (where the furnace heating water that had come down the chimney creating steam had seriously deteriorated the structure) re pointed to stabilize it. The sections running through the rest of the house were protected by structure and plaster so they were fine as is.

Once the top of the clay liner was sawed off, the chimney was so weak that the guys were almost able to push it over.

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It took about half and hour to get down to the roof level.

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the water heater and furnace were re vented.

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the pipe was run through from the basement

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all of the holes in the base of the old chimney were filled with mortar. (woo hoo, no more exhaust in the house)

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and the base re pointed

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The truly creepy thing was that the exhaust was almost completely blocked which means that I could have succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning at any time or the furnace would have burned out.

So I guess the chimney failing was a blessing in disguise.

The pipe is not as charming as the giant old chimney

chimney and seedling photos march 2011 007

but I will not die in my sleep from carbon monoxide poisoning, water will no longer leak into my attic, and I do not have to worry about the collapse of an insanely tall chimney during an earthquake (living in a geologically active and volcanic area, they are a fact of life)

This house has stood through the strongest earthquakes in the region in recorded history (living on the Ring of Fire and in the Cascadia subduction zone, that’s saying something.

I’ve made it just a bit safer (note to self, get a gas shut off wrench and keep it next to the meter, gas explosions are bad)


Mood: Contemplative


Life Goes On…

It’s been a long time since I’ve done any sort of blog update that wasn’t about food, gardening or an impersonal/general topic (or just cell phone photos so you all know I’m still alive), so I’m going to do a regular update. *note, I’m hoping to get back to blogging on a regular basis

I guess we could start with the “Weekend Update” (“Jane you ignorant slut” – if you’re too young to remember when Saturday Night Live was good, just keep moving, nothing to see here)

I signed my new magazine contract (has it been six years already?) for another year writing and doing photography for South Sound (and sometimes 425) Magazine and got that off in the mail

Friday afternoon/evening, I met the girls for happy hour at Café De Vino and had some excellent wine and bruchetta and a great time. After that, Cherie and I headed over to the Mandolin Café to meet some other folks and listen to music. I made it a fairly early night.

On Saturday, I was up bright and early to finish up the basement project. For the first time since I got all of my mother’s stuff that had to be sorted through, I can easily walk around in there and use it. The counter is all set up with my grow lights for my garden seedlings, the craft/sewing table is ready to be used and the brewing equipment is ready to go (note to self, brew a batch of beer before the yeast dies)


The things that are boxed, only used seasonally are neatly stacked under the stairs and out of the way. (the “wine cellar” is now on the cool side of the basement as well)


The bike stable is now in the gear room which I organized a few months ago.

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Confessions of a Gear Whore (aka cleaning the basement) 009

Here are the before shots of the basement and gear room

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Confessions of a Gear Whore (aka cleaning the basement) 001

After the basement project was completed, I headed out to Goodwill to find a tacky formal bridesmaid or prom dress to costume up for Carnival and then to Joanne’s to get mask and headdress making goodies.

At goodwill, I found a (fabulously tacky) dress with a beaded bodice, a ruffle and which was short in front and long in back. PERFECT. I found some beads for 99 cents each and some gold/bronze Brazilian leather high heel sandals. To that, I added by “Bad Fairy” wings and was good to go.

Next I hit Joanne’s and purchased materials to make a mask. I think it came out pretty well. I added some feathers to a tiara for a headdress (note to self, next time, more feathers) the fun thing about the mask is that my bangs covered the top of the mask and my hair was up and the feathers on the side blended in with my hair. I looked like some crazy red tail hawk/peacock fairy.

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Here’s the final costume.

Here are Cherie, Nicole and I at TaCarnival

We headed across the street to the event at the Image Crew Studio for their grand opening, which was the hopping party in town. Since it was not a Carnival party we got a lot of interesting looks when we walked in. (but since it was members of the art community, no one thought much of it)

Soon, Cindi, Destini and Carmela joined us and then Daniel and Gayle arrived also all in costume. I think we kind of hijacked their party 😉

When I was trying to walk down the hill in those stupid heels (which were already killing my feet) I had a bit more inertia than I was comfortable with, so I grabbd a signpost, took off the shoes (and pantyhose, not going to ruin them by walking on the street in them) and wandered around downtown Tacoma commando 😉 and no, it’s not the first time I’ve done that and it won’t likely be the last.

Sunday, I was up bright and early to meet Bill for a bike ride. I had a bike of his that I wanted to ride to check out the geometry and sizing so that I could decide if I wanted to Prodeal one or not.

I’ve decided to make the commitment to a completely car free commute (which includes the van pools at work) so I needed to get a bike that didn’t have skinny race tires or a carbon frame (the steep cobbled potholed streets of Tacoma would kill my road or race bike during a daily commute) it also has disk brakes which are a big plus on our steep streets as are the super low gears in the back 11-32).

THIS is the bike I ordered the Scott Sub 20 Hybrid. I will add a rack and panniers, a women’s seat, and switch the pedals out for a combo platform/SPD, but other than that, it will be ready to rock and roll (impatiently waiting for it to arrive)

Her name is going to be Xena (because she’s going to be my road warrior bike) She will join “Blue” (mountain bike) “Flash” (road bike) and “Diva” (triathlon/race bike) in the stable.

After the ride, I headed home and planted my lilacs and roses (I am going to climb up the ladder and bitch slap any roofer or chimney guy who even thinks about tossing something off the roof and/or stomping/setting a ladder up on my landscaping after last time-I am still pissed about that)

Sunday afternoon was Stitch and Bitch where we had record attendance. Every seat in the living room (and a few brought in from the dining room) was filled with people happily knitting, crocheting, card weaving. It was awesome.

After that, Cathi, Jim and I headed over to the park across the street for some poi spinning. Becki thinks that I will be ready to spin fire by an event we’ll both be attending on the 19th of this month, so that will be my first FIRE spin. I am SO excited.

Monday I finally got my taxes e-filed and then started on paperwork to take the sheister that sold me my house to court over the roof issues.

First, Francine and I walked down to the courthouse (exercise and errands in one trip) which seemed to be a logical place to file court paperwork.

Oh NO… Only the district court (way down in South Tacoma) handles small claims, so we had to hoof it back up the hill to go get my truck and haul butt down there before it closed.

I walked in, paperwork in hand with 20 minutes to spare. Yay!

Then I was asked, “Do you have a contract stating that you can sue him in Pierce County?”

Uh… What?

Apparently, even though the contract was executed in Pierce County I have to go up to Everett (Tacoma to Everett on a weekday? That’s beyond the worst traffic nightmare ever) to sue him there because that’s where he lives.

I was NOT amused, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

I guess I’ll wait until I have my new bike and just take the train up. No way am I driving up there during the week.

At least I got all the paperwork together. I have the contract he signed agreeing to make repairs to code according to the pre-purchase inspection, all the pictures, statements from the roofers that the shoddy repairs he had done by some fly by night lackey were not to code (and that the materials used were wrong for the application and applied improperly) and caused the roof failure.

It should be a slam dunk. He’s lucky I’m only doing small claims for part of the cost rather than taking him to real court.

So my time’s been spent on: the day job, the magazine job, the house, my little urban farm and chickens, volunteering, learning to knit and spin fiber, poi spinning, and getting back to playing my violin (and once I’m 100% healed from the fall, masters swim, spin class, and triathlon training). I’m also trying to make an effort to get out for more social events as well (it’s tempting after a long day with a very early wakeup to go home and just chill and be a bit hermit like) I’m excited about getting back outside for some more photo adventures as well.

Life’s been insanely busy, but good.


Mood: Tired


Black Friday, A Sad Day Indeed

In lieu of WTF Wednesday… My annual offereing…

Black Friday, A Sad Day Indeed
reflections by L. Lisa Lawrence

An old woman is knocked to the ground and trampled as a crowd races past; one person turns to help her and is swept away in the mob, only to be injured himself. Two other men begin to beat and kick each other; soon the violence escalates into what has been described as a “small riot” as the pain and suffering of the injured seems fade away into a surreal sea of bodies.

Are people fleeing an attack? Is this a natural disaster? Are people starving and fighting for survival for themselves and their families? What crisis could possibly make human beings behave this way towards each other?

Sadly, the answer is greed.

This disgusting display did not happen in a third world country or a disaster zone. It happened in the affluent community of South Hill Washington where all people could think of was their own need for material things at the expense of the health and safety of others and even their own dignity.

Sadly, this scenario played out over and over again all across this “great’ country of ours, as people left their homes and families in the cold, dark wee hours of the morning in order to beat others to holiday sales and deals, resorting to violence when they deemed it necessary.

The Tacoma News Tribune decided to print an editorial about how stores should do a better job of stocking their shelves in order to prevent this from occurring.

Are the stores taking advantage of people’s most base instincts? Yes. Do they contribute to the problem because all they care about is sucking people in to spend money on other things? Yes.

But the fault lies with society and the never ending need that many feel to drive a bigger SUV, have a bigger TV screen and to show the neighbors how successful they are all the while driving themselves deeper into credit card debt. Yeah, it’s great for the ten minutes while the presents are ripped open, and people get “everything that they wanted”, only to be let down later, when the weeks (Oh wait, MONTHS, this started before Halloween this year) of anticipation and build up fade away with nothing of substance or resembling the intended holiday (s) left.

What ever happened to gathering with family and friends to share the joy of whatever holiday or tradition one celebrates and actually thinking about what the holiday means? Does greed and a mob mentality celebrate any of the miracles of the season? Does it celebrate the lamps that burned for eight days which is celebrated at Hanukkah or the return of the light at Solstice? Can anyone say that this has anything to do with the birth of one tradition’s Messiah at Christmas or the reclaiming of another groups heritage at Kwanzaa? No. This new “tradition” is as far from the sacredness of any of these celebrations as anything could possibly be.

No amount of product availability, rain checks or security is going to change the underlying problem of greed and complete disregard for anything other than instant gratification.

I am happy to say that rather than engaging in this disgusting display, I will share a day with many friends, (who will be receiving home made gifts), decorating a tree with hand cut snowflakes each visitor made with love and wrote wonderful messages on, sharing food, hospitality and spending another day being thankful for what we do have. Many of us also spend this day gathering clothing, blankets and food for those who have less. Yes, it is possible to be thankful more than one day a year and to give back to our community.

Don’t get me wrong, although I do make almost all of the gifts I give, I will purchase a small gift or two for those closest to me, something that will make them smile and that will decorate their home, help them enjoy one of their favorite hobbies, or keep them warm in the winter. They will be modest, purchased from retailers who care for their employees and contribute to their communities, and I will most certainly not behave like an animal in order to get them.

I pity those who are part of the Black Friday mob. They don’t realize it, but they are the ones missing out.


(author holds copyright on all material.  Permission granted to link to original pages, please use contact link on webpage for any requests for reprinting or publishing)

Mood: WTF Indeed