Saturday, October 5, 2013

Day 5 NaBloPoMo

Ah, children…

But enough about them, I’m going to write something about my fireplace, because my fireplace has not texted me to let me know it has lost any keys…

In case I need to remind anyone out there, Tam and I went out and bought a lovely fireplace insert. We did this after spending five days in an ice storm with an inefficient fireplace, trying to keep a fire going with wet wood, and eating flaming food while listening to the trees drop large branches, none of which we could burn.

Yes, I know, it would have been nice to be able to have the insert BEFORE the Icy Armageddon, but we didn’t have the funds at the time.

Finding an insert that met our criteria wasn’t easy. It had to have enough surface sticking out from the firebox to be used to cook with. After five days of eating toast flambé, hotdog flambé, bacon flambé, and coffee flambé (yes, the coffee was on fire because I spilled bacon grease on the pot), AND having no hot water to use to clean up after toileting (I know… EEEWWWW!) or even just take a sponge bath without causing frostbite, having a way to do these things when the power is out was important. I can rough it, but if I can make things easier to do while living like a cave-dwelling troglodyte, I will do it.

Tam has lived with a wood stove for years and knows the ins and outs of fire building, fire keeping, and most important, fire starting. I used to know a lot of those things, but after living with a furnace and no real need to worry about keeping a house warm by burning wood, those talents went latent on me.

Then Tam moved to the beach to run the shop and I was in trouble. Starting the fire turned out to be a lot more difficult than I remembered. When Spawn was tiny, we lived in a house with a coal burning stove. I could get that damn thing lit with three sheets of newspaper, five sticks and a match. I now have a modern wood stove and I can’t light a fire with the Sunday Times, six pillar candles, and enough kindling to build a small mansion.

While Tam and I were Skyping, she talked me through her process and lo! I made fire! I made fire again the next night, and the night after that. Paper, ENOUGH kindling, some old candle wax, and a lighter (we’re out of matches). It turns out I wasn’t using enough sticks to give it a chance to really take. Once I got that all figured out, I was ON it!

I decided I didn’t want to mess with hauling wood, splitting wood, dragging wood into the garage, stacking wood in the garage… I’m just not that into wood, you know? So I decided to try these pressed wood logs. They’re uniform in size and shape, start easily, and there are two kinds: regular lignetics that burn hot and fast, and the long burning ones that are cooler, but last several hours.

After a couple days, I had my formula all worked out. Build a fire, get it nice and hot, then toss one of the long burners on. As soon as it catches and burns for a couple hours, toss on another one. Choke down the damper to almost closed, go to bed. In the morning, wake to a warm house, toss on a quick burn log, repeat process and go to work. Come home, do it all over again.

I had one fire going for over 60 hours. My house was nice and toasty. I think I may be ready for the next step: Learning to cook on it. You know, these big-girl adventure panties fit pretty good!

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