Our Perfect cookstove that came with the house, turns out to be not quite so, well, perfect. Poor old lady, she’s been pretty well beat up over the years. I’m imagining it’s a coal stove (it even has pipes coming out of the fire box to heat water!), but the back is all rusted, and you can actually look behind it and see the yellow of flames when you’ve got a small fire
going in it (don’t worry, ma, we’re being safe!). Likewise the top. All the cast iron is cracked, and sagged, and it’s really not much a of a stove, so much as an indoor firepit. The irony is that I looked up the manufacturer online – Richardson & Boynton – and discovered one of the main search listings for the company is a New York Times Story from 1914 which describes the huge fire – no joke here – decimated their Newark, NJ plant. No kidding. Anyway, picturesque as this lady is, I think we’ve got to let her go. She takes up a lot of space, and we need to use that space to actually generate heat. It is getting colder here, you know. It’s getting into the 40s at night, and it’s time to actually do something about it. You may know we’ve been working at doing something about it, but this stuff takes time. We’re
basically starting from 0 – the existing forced hot air furnace doesn’t work in about 10 significant ways, primary among them being that forced hot air is a dirty and inefficient heat source, especially in an old drafty house like this. We’re moving towards hydronic heating (heating with hot water in radiators, for those of you who aren’t home heating nerds, as we’re becoming). More on that as things develop.
Yesterday brought a fairly exciting moral victory. I delved into some of our old wiring – we inherited a house with a real hodge-podge of electrical resources, but in the main, that means ungrounded “two-prong” outlets that are dangerous and outdated. You can’t really plug much in the way of contemporary electricity into such outlets. So I set out to update
us, which, in the long run, meant rerunning all new electrical cabling in the basement and upgrading the outlets. Not a small task. I’m happy to report, here, at the outset, that the new wiring was duly tested as of yesterday, and all systems are safe and a “go.” Exciting. In the process though, I had some exciting discoveries, including the use of scotch tape to close up an outlet coverplate (hm.) and the fact that at some point previous owners used stone and concrete to close up the space between the top of the foundation wall and the floor of the house. Most of the electricity was run in this stone and concrete. If you’re wondering whether I donned a headlamp and spent the better part of a day with a hammer, sledgehammer, prybars, and cold chisel breaking up this stone and concrete and removing it, you need wonder no more, because I did. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve cursed the
use and users of concrete around this property, I’d buy you a milkshake. Seriously. It’s like someone thought that concrete was literally the answer to everything that was wrong with their house. Leaky floor? Concrete! Mouse getting in? Concrete! Broken window pane? Concrete! Shorted wiring? Concrete! Squabbles with the wife? Concrete! You get the gist. I’m also at work replacing the bottom of the center post of the wagon shed, since someone (I’m going to imagine it was the same forward thinking soul who used it everywhere else) poured a concrete floor in the shed and surround all the wood components (including primary structural elements, like this post) in concrete, which would absorb and hold moisture close to the wood so that it could rot much more quickly. This same brainiac managed to drain the roof in such a way that rainwater and snow melt would be channeled into and onto the concrete floor to exacerbate its dampness. Thank you, thank you very much.
Ok, enough with the tiny violins playing only for me. Enough with the negativity towards former caretakers of Owl’s Hoot. We’re lucky to have a roof over our heads, good company, and some crazy cats (who’ve been doing a lot of successful hunting, incidentally). We’re lucky for a nice Sunday, and fall color. We’re lucky for families who love us. We’re lucky for each other! Tally ho!