Posted: January 16th, 2011 | Author: eliza | Filed under: heating, life, nature | 1 Comment »
morning walks with Laika in the woods behind our house
snow pup by the frozen stream
The last time I spent a whole winter in Maine was seventeen years ago. I mostly remember hating it a lot, always stepping in slushy puddles with bad shoes and being freezing and miserable and counting the minutes until I could move away and never come back. I’m cold-blooded and can’t do anything when it’s chilly, I really just want to be warm all the time and lie in a hammock, sweating gently and drinking lemonades. Spent most of my winters perched on the kitchen counter with my toes on the woodstove, or else sitting on top of the furnace vent with a fleecy blanket and a good book, waiting for the furnace to roar on and inflate my fleecy blanket into a puffy tent of hot air. Always thought I’d end up living my life in some hot and steamy place, but for some reason I love people who love winter, so I’m back in Maine and it’s winter and it turns out it’s OK. We must be near the half-way point now, and I think it’s not going to be so terrible. Snow is the best part of winter and we’ve had a few really good snowstorms and a lot of pretty flurries. We’re lucky enough to work from home so we don’t have to drive around in it. We’ve got this beautiful path through the woods out back and it’s been awesome to bundle up and stomp through the snowy forest with the puppy. Also I think being an adult makes the winter more bearable. I don’t hate the world for making me live here because now I could drop everything and move to the tropics if I really wanted to but instead I’m staying here with my boo and my dog and my loving family and my crazy house and my path in the woods, because I like all those things. Also I don’t care about looking like a dork in puffy jackets and boots and whatever. Totally used to looking like a dork by now. I just want to be warm and dry in my enormous winter jacket and hiking boots and layers of long underwear and woolly socks and hats and mittens and scarf and gloves and everything. I think when I was a silly teenager I made the mistake of trying to look cute in the winter and ended up with frozen toes and fingers and hating my life all winter. Now I am a hermit and I only hang out with people who love me no matter how many pairs of long underwear I’m wearing. Also the winter is probably more bearable because I’ve been gone so long! We never really had a real winter during four years in Argentina, not like this! So it’s kind of new and fun all over again. I really want to get a pair of snowshoes now, so we can tromp around the forest with greater ease.
We had originally thought we’d be closing off the 2nd floor for the winter and moving our bed into the diningroom or something, only living on the first floor of the house. But we just never really got so cold that it seems worth the bother. We hung a transparent butcher-shop curtain (you know, like in the dairy or meat section at the grocery store?) in the doorway of the livingroom, to keep the woodstove heat contained to the central core rooms, and keep the drafts out. Hung more plastic over various doors and windows to stop the drafts. Upstairs, we have a little electric heater in our bedroom, we close the door and turn it on at bed-time and it keeps our noses from freezing while we sleep. We have a little electric heater in the upstairs bathroom and it keeps the bathroom toasty warm (we keep it on low all the time to make sure the pipes don’t freeze in there). It’s totally manageable. We have a few cozy warm zones, and then you just have to jog through the cold rooms to get from one warm spot to another. And then bundle up and go outside to stack firewood or play in the snow.
Posted: October 5th, 2010 | Author: eliza | Filed under: excitement, heating, kitchen, progress | No Comments »
We met some new friends that live right down the street in Limerick!! George is a stone mason, and was so sweet to offer us some advice and help with setting up our hearth and stove. He advised us to put some slate slabs under the feet of the woodstove and offered to cut them out for us, using a piece of slate we had lying around in the yard. They are beautiful smooth circles cut from gray slate and look fantastic with our little circular tiles. And then he helped us drag our woodstove over and put on the legs and set the whole thing up in place on the hearth – a HUGE and heavy task!!! which we are so incredibly grateful for!!! So that got done ahead of schedule, on Friday night. On Saturday morning it was so great to wake up and see this beautiful stove sitting on our new hearth, waiting for the first fire! First we had to cut down all the stove pipe bits and wrestle them all into place and cement them together.
Richard helps install the stove pipe; all finished and ready to go!
And then… Sunday morning… our FIRST FIRE! in our brand new wood stove! wow. this is so so so exciting. And cozy and warm. Not a moment too soon, as it was quite a chilly morning. Because it’s a brand-new woodstove, in the first few days we have to burn off some chemicals and stuff in the paint, so we’ve gotta keep all the windows open in the house, and fire it up slowly. Next weekend should be even colder so hopefully we can close all the windows by then.
Just look at that beautiful new woodstove. It’s so handsome! And warm!
Laika supervises our first fire. Note the beautiful little slate circles under each foot of the woodstove!
Posted: September 28th, 2010 | Author: eliza | Filed under: excitement, fun, heating, kitchen, progress | Tags: hearth, kitchen, woodstove | No Comments »
We’ve started laying the kitchen hearth!!!!! The weather has started getting crisp and cool, and now that we’re living here it feels like time to focus on getting the woodstove in. Evenings are feeling pretty chilly around here. Before we can set up our woodstove we just need to build the hearth to set it on.
So we have these beautiful blue penny tiles that we got back in may. First we looked up size requirements and clearances for our stove. Drew up plans, then taped out the hearth plans at actual size on the floor using green painters’ tape. Ripped out the yucky vinyl flooring in the spots where it was covering up the hardwood flooring. Measured, cut and screwed down cement board.
laying down cement board. with some help from pups.
We were lucky enough to have some handy visitors at this point, so Gaurav’s partner Caroline pitched in and helped out a whole lot! Before mixing the mortar we had to build a temporary wooden frame to keep the edges of our hearth nice and neat. We did a dry run first, just to figure out how all the tiles fit on the hearth. Then mixed the mortar and slathered it all over the cement board, trying to get an even layer all over, which turned out to be a little harder than expected.
Caroline measuring tiles
And then laid down the tiles! This also turned out to be a little tricky, and we didn’t get them quite perfect, but we did a pretty good job for a first time. We had to let the mortar dry for a while (we gave it a full 48 hours since the weather’s so rainy) and then mixed up the grout. We picked a greyish color called Sahara Beige. It’s a pretty good match for the tile color, I think. Grouting was fun! The whole project was fun.
laying tiles on the mortar; tiles all set and waiting for grout!
spreading the grout
wiping off the excess
It’s really our first project actually building something finished, rather than just demolishing or doing behind-the-scenes stuff like wiring and plumbing. (that stuff is fun too but the results aren’t quite as spiffy.) Now the fancy-looking hearth looks wildly out of place in our messed-up, gutted old kitchen. I still haven’t really worked out what our kitchen will look like, haven’t decided on paint colors or anything. So I’m a little unsure whether this fancy hearth will fit in with the rest of our kitchen, hopefully it won’t stick out too much.
Now the grout’s dry, I think we need to put on a sealant. Then take up the frame and then set up the wood stove! Hoping to have our first fire by Sunday, when the weather’s supposed to turn cold again. And soon we should put some molding around the edge of th hearth. We’re thinking it should be hardwood so we’ll have to make it ourselves, in my dad’s workshop.
Posted: August 28th, 2010 | Author: eliza | Filed under: heating, slow progress | Tags: firewood, heating, woodstove | No Comments »
Despite the godawful sweltering heatwave this week, we’ve been thinking about the coming winter and how to store up enough firewood to get by. We’ve got this marvelous high-efficiency, clean-burning woodstove (or so the salesman said; we haven’t tested it out yet) and we’re planning to close off most of the house and only heat two or three rooms, so we think we can get through the winter with around three to five cords of wood. Earlier in the summer we stacked our first cord neatly and moved on to our next shipment of wood, two cords green wood. Before we got through the second pile, the first one fell over! Argh.
wood stack fell over
So I started scheming… How to make a nice solid woodstack with minimal effort? Richard recommends a row of three cinder blocks on the bottom, each one dug into a little hole and leveled, then two lengths of pressure-treated lumber atop the cinder blocks. This gives a nice level footing and keeps the bottom of your stack up out of the dirt so they don’t get all rotten. I decided to add on vertical endpieces, like bookends, and diagonal supports to hold them up. That way we don’t have to fuss around with criss-cross stacking at the ends.
wood stacking project … in progress
The finished plan called for six cinder blocks, twelve eight-foot pressure-treated timbers, eight giant bolts. Took a bit of trial and error to get it all put together but we did it! We’re hoping it will hold nearly one cord of wood and last a good 20 years or more! If it doesn’t tip over or fall apart. Now we just need to make three more and we’ll be all set!
the new firewood stacks