Tuesday, January 10, 2012


This is the main way we heat our house. It's a (smallish, I suppose) parlor stove, circa late 1800s or early 1900s. It's pretty, and although it went through some abuse, it is not a bad little stove. It easily heats most of the lower level of the house (two bedrooms, a bathroom, a LARGE living room, dining room, kitchen, office space). It doesn't quite get through to the family room (which connects past the kitchen through double doors) or the upstairs, but hey, it's a parlor stove. It's not airtight, but it does run relatively well on a good load of wood. It burns down fairly waste-free, and doesn't produce as much ash as some of our old stoves have.

It's currently squatting happily on its three legs in our living room, burning away at a nice pace. Above it is a relatively large box that looks odd, and is called MagicHeat. It's an interesting contraption that "harvests" the heat that would otherwise be lost as it flits up your chimney. The internal thermostat clicks on at 150F, and off at 120F or so, blowing only hot air into your room. The thing raises the temperature in the main living areas by as much as 10-12 degrees! I admit that when Gray said he was going to install this thing, I was hesitant. It was expensive (though his parents bought it for us for Christmas, thank all that's holy), and it didn't seem that an ugly box on a pipe could do all it claims. Well... it does. And then some!

It has improved the draw on our chimney, warmed the house, lowered the smoke in the house (which is a long story I don't want to get into right now), and gives us an oral warning when the wood needs more stove. When the thermostat clicks off the fan, which isn't all that loud but is definitely easily heard, we know the heat is dropping down. That lets us get wood on while there are still nice, cherry coals glowing in the fireplace. I think our wood is also burning more efficiently, but that's just an opinion.

Having this stove in our living room has done a few things for our family. First, we like to congregate there, because it's many degrees warmer than anywhere else in the house. Second, it's just pleasant to be around a crackling fire, and our lovely cast iron fireplace has two little chevrons of mesh that allow us to watch our fire as well as feel its heat. Third, it's allowed us to set our thermostat to 55F and make it this far through the winter (albeit a fairly warm one) with only a  half tank of oil so far. Generally speaking, the only time the furnace goes on is if the fire dies out (sometimes in the morning this happens as the stove really isn't an all nighter) or if we have over friends who aren't inured to the cold like we are.

For me, this has become a place of refuge. I no longer hide away in my bedroom. I no longer have my computer in my bedroom, either. It's in the office, and there it stays. I go to it, rather than lugging it around with me. I've become much less dependent on this piece of technology. Don't get me wrong: I still use it, and love it. It simply has ceased to be my lover, my focus. This has resulted in a cleaner house, happier family members, children who are forced to clean up their messes while they grumble incessantly, and dinners that are tasty and healthy and rarely "thrown together" at the last minute.

The upstairs is a different category altogether. I will admit, the chill of the upstairs (usually hovering around 55F, though on very cold nights it will drop into the 40s occasionally) has me prefer to go up only for necessary rituals (my altars are in my room) and to grab clothing or to sleep. I love my room, and it is very much a sanctuary, but it's a cold one that forces me to bundle up. I have come to see it as a place to meditate while in a cocoon of blankets (yes, that really is me just before bed, bundled up almost to the point of being unrecognizable lol). I use a heating pad to warm up the sheets (while we do have coals I could use, I think it's not worth the fire hazard to take a pan of hot coals up to warm my feet at night *chuckle*) while I'm cuddling down, and then it goes off and I wrap myself up in the quilts and sheets and microfiber, and I drift off to a very restful sleep.

I have found that the sheer weight of the winter-weight quilts is a comforting thing. I've also come to understand, intimately, why people wore nightcaps and kerchiefs to bed prior to forced air heating! As you can see in the above picture, I have a blanket thrown over my head. This is because my bedroom wall is an outside wall, and it's cold when the wind blows. It will sap the heat out of my body through my head and leave me shivering. The simple application of a throw over my noggin leaves me toasty warm throughout the night. I'm surprised how much of a difference it made! I am thinking of asking for an actual nightcap for myself for my birthday (in just a couple of weeks! WOW!), because I think it would improve my sleep and warmth. I like the idea of having it ON me rather than wrapped around me, because it wouldn't slip off when I turned over, nor would I lose it when I get up to pee in the middle of the night.

In any case, this winter has turned out to be a very meditative one. I've had less feeling of stress and "run around syndrome" than previous years, and I just feel better about myself and my surroundings. It's been pretty peaceful here, and we've settled into decent routines that carry us from day to day with gentleness and love. My life is not perfect, by any means, but... who'd want that anyhow? I like my little deviations from normalcy.
Post a Comment