Friday, January 18, 2008

Jiggety jig.

As in "home again, home again."  Which was, indeed, a pretty jiggety process.

Yes, our visit to my father involved airplanes.  And long distances.  And keeping a 2.9 year-old at least moderately quiet in her seat, for hours and hours.  And, in case you haven't had the joy; Hell wreaks no chaos like a jet-lagged toddler.

We got home to a very cold Little House, of course - no fire in it for 12 days, in January, in Minnesota...  priority one is, of course, come on baby, light my fire.

That was not too difficult; after 30 odd years, it's easy to remember to put kindling next to the stove, BEFORE you leave for anyplace that's likely to have you returning to a dead fire.  Dry, handy- not too hard to crinkle up some newspaper, lay the kindling, and light the match.  

A dead-cold stove-pipe, however, is a barrier - it doesn't "draw", on the contrary, it "squashes" your fire, with the weight of non-moving freezing cold dense air.  The stove is going to smoke for a bit before physics wakes up and you win the battle of heated air displacing and moving cold air.  Once it all catches- off she goes.

Next barrier- a frozen house.  It's one thing to warm up the ceiling beams from their over-night norm of 55°F or so- it's another to get them warmed up from 25°F.  You can crank up the woodstove for a long time, and it seems like it's not making a dent in the cold.

Knew that, not surprised- left my jacket on, and had Spice and Smidgen drive in to pick up the mail while I was dealing with smoke and ice- and the chimney fire.

If you heat with wood, you're going to have chimney fires.  Probably.  So- when I had the stove cranking at "super-pizza-hot" levels, it didn't surprise me to hear the roar in the chimney, and certainly didn't scare me, though chimney fires DO cause a lot of houses to burn down.  If you catch it quick, and deal with it, it shouldn't be a problem.

I TRY to have a chimney fire once a month or so- kind of the "controlled burn" philosophy; keep them frequent, and small, and it won't kill you; it's the huge ones with too much chimney creosote that get out of hand.

So, I shut off the air to the stove (fire can't burn with no oxygen!  surprise!  a good thing to remember in these cases) - and shifted into "chimney fire mode" - open the doors and windows (because it makes the chimney smoke and stink) - and constantly move upstairs, and down, watching for glowing red hot-spots in the chimney - and get the fire extinguisher ready/handy.  If just shutting off the air doesn't do it (it might not; stoves leak air, ya know) then shooting the fire extinguisher into the firebox pretty definitely will.  Nasty mess to clean up, though.

The fire slowed, and quit burning in the chimney.  Relief.  Any chimney fire means you're going to have to get out the stove-cleaning stuff, though, and clean the insides of the stove out- chunks of creosote will have fallen down into the air passages, clogging it up, making it impossible for the stove to draw properly.  In this case, though- after getting the stove cleaned out- it STILL wouldn't draw.  Had to get up on the roof, and sweep the chimney- and ... aha, our first proof of the year, our gremlins do NOT pay attention to the Gregorian calendar, and are still hanging around.  For the first time in 30 years, the chimney stayed blocked- I had to rig a novel sweeping method to knock out blockage below the flue damper valve- an area that normall runs so hot it never blocks.

Hey, a welcome home, from our resident gremlins!  Whee.

Took two days to get the stove completely cleaned and working.  BOY is it clean now- and crazy efficient when it's so clean- which is good, because we're headed into real winter.

Then- catching my breath, and looking into getting back to this blog- I run into THIS...

Well, I read it, cracked up of course, VOTED FOR SHARON, OF COURSE - then checked the results- and was, I have to admit, actually surprised to find I was out in front- by a good bit.
Enough that Sharon complained I was "kicking her behind" - (since then, she's gained on me).

By now I was pretty close to "ROTFLMAO", a bit of netspeak I learned years ago (rolling on the floor laughing my ahem off) - but also, you understand, deeply honored- and deeply puzzled.


I DO appreciate all the comments pointing out that most folks don't think I'm actually bonkers- just - really - "out there", as Chrunchita puts it.  Puzzled, because- really, truly, I don't think living this way is crazy, silly, or nutty at all.  Really!  I don't!  I think I'm kind of normal.  ish.  (well, as long as I don't leave the farm- then the differences do kind of surface.)

NOW, I'm worried- when I first noticed the poll, I was ahead at like 48% to Sharon's 32 - (HA!) - but she's been gaining on me.  So if you feel like joining in, and voting for me- I'd be delighted.  Who knows, it may turn out to be useful when Good Morning America finally notices...


Anyway.  Shouldn't be too long before some substantive posts here; frankly part of the problem for me is WAY too much stuff in the news and on other blogs that is getting me stimulated.  Where does one start!?


Anonymous said...

Welcome Home! For the record, Greenpa, I did vote for you. But I sort of took "nut job" to mean 'furthest along in living sustainably.' I actually don't think you're the all-out nuttiest of the group!

But having said that, I love how... outgoing you are about your beliefs. I think we all love that ; ).

Anonymous said...


It's nice to see you back in the blogsphere even if a post about dealing with the intricacies of heating with a wood stove is beyond my comprehension. Maybe someday it will be a skill I have but for now it's hot water baseboard heaters for me.

BTW, I voted for Sharon, too, because she's, well, so darned INTENSE about everything. Most of the time. That, I think, is nuttier than being off grid and having an awesome outhouse. But being off grid and having an awesome outhouse does not mean you aren't an environmental nut job, just not the biggest most flaming one.

That said, I do enjoy your level of nuttiness. Keep it up and I look forward to future posts.


Crunchy Chicken said...

Hooray! You're back! You were totally kicking ass in the poll until Sharon unleashed her minions :)

Oh well, I think the current results are probably about right. Although I'm sure Spice might try voting more than once in your favor.

Oldnovice said...

I didn't vote in that poll and haven't seen the results.

Nothing nutty in how you live, IMO. It works for you and your family. It wouldn't work for us, much like other lifestyle choices wouldn't work for us. What I enjoy about you is that you don't write about how your lifestyle SHOULD or MUST work for us.

Ran into a Canadian person/family online who lives similarly to your situation by choice (although not associated with environment) and followed their posts regarding outages of prime source, backup #1, backup #2, etc. for a few years. Before they lived THAT way, they'd spent a few years living in the bush, and before they lived THAT way, they were high-paid consultants living in a city.

Not an easy lifestyle, by any means, and certainly not one to be undertaken by folks who are "handy" impaired.

Good to see you finally back. I didn't get the memo wherein you mentioned taking a visit to see dad.

Anonymous said...

Greenpa, if just half the people in the world were just half as bonkers as you, most of our environmental problems would be solved. Thanks for being a nut. Keep up the good work.

jewishfarmer said...

Greenpa, I voted for you too! But mostly not because of the environmentalism thing, but because you had the courage to go through babyhood and toddlerhood again after you'd gotten through the diaper stage. Now *that's* really, really brave...and a little nuts ;-) (says the woman who is dreaming of the day that no one in her life requires her assistance with anything in the toileting process).