I charged the batteries for the camera. I put them in the camera. Then I left them there and they lost their charge again. So in desperation I took this horrible picture with my phone:


Isn’t that charming? As you can’t really see, all I’ve done is change the back, which used to be a single plank, so that it matches the front structurally. Looks and is more balanced, although what I had to do it with is 2x4s, so it is not exactly “delicate”. It is well balanced however, and spins just fine. I even secured the pedals, which I had been meaning to do since I built the thing in the first place, but never actually bothered.

The big exciting news right now is that it is, as of this moment, more than 16ºC in my kitchen. (That is around 61ºF, for those who don’t speak metric.) I cannot probably convey how wonderful that is, but I’m going to try.

We’ve been here for five years. When we moved in, as I think I have mentioned before, there were electric rads in all the rooms, but because the house had been abandoned and left open to the ravages of weather and bunnies, the rads were shall we say, less than reliable. To wit, we turned one on and there was a horrible crashing buzzing sound and a flash of blue flame. So we removed them. This was not a big debate with us, because even if they worked perfectly, we cannot afford to pay for electric heat. Not in an “oh, that money could be spent on so many other things” kind of way, but in a brutally simple “that money simply isn’t there and can’t be spent at all” kind of way.

We might have been able to swing gas heat, back then, although gas prices have gone up so much that would probably have been out of the question by now as well. But it really never came up, as there isn’t any gas connection out here anyway. So we chanted “Be Like The Ed” (which had already become something of a mantra for us) and decided we would just use the wood stove which was already conveniently parked in our back room.

Except the wood stove which was conveniently parked in our back room was, forgive my language, a piece of crap. It had two options – “not hot”, and “chimney fire” — and ironically the chimney fire option did not necessarily mean the house was warm, since the chimney is on the outside of the house, and does not transfer any heat into the building.

So we got a ‘new’ stove. It is a Franklin stove, about the same vintage as the building (1893). It is shallow, kind of looks like a fireplace insert actually, but it works very well. If you put wood into it every half hour, it will get the room that it is in pretty comfortable, and the little spot right at the top of the stairs gets very warm indeed. The only two catches are, you have to put wood in every half hour, which kind of precludes having a life or doing anything else effectively, and the other rooms of the house still had no heat at all. And every morning we were back to below freezing, because I don’t mind jumping up once or twice a night to feed a stove or check on babies or something, but forgoing sleep entirely and burning extra wood just to make one room somewhat comfortable just never seemed practicable. The other catch, which we discovered surprisingly late in the game, was that no amount of fan-blowing or screening or window-plasticking was ever going to make the other rooms warm, because the house was built (cleverly) with electric heat in mind, and the interior walls are all insulated. And while the exterior walls had insulation which due to leaks and rot had gone completely to pot, the interior insulation was fine and fluffy and totally preventing any heat transfer at all between any two rooms.

So every year the pipes froze, and every morning I got up and broke the ice on the animals’ water and lit the fire, and melted snow for coffee, and counted it a bonus that six months out of the year I didn’t actually need to run the refrigerator. Then I would keep the fire going until Raven got up, at which point I would go try and get some work done, and he would completely forget to feed the fire and it would go out, and I would try really hard not to be a total bitch about the whole thing, and we would wind up spending most of the winter on the front porch, which being glassed in and southerly, is actually pretty darned warm as long as the sun is shining. The net result of all this is that the average daytime temperature in my house during the winter is about 7 ºC (45º F). Which is cold, no matter what form you write it in. And the kitchen, dark and easterly, is always colder. No matter what season it is, you can pretty much count on it being five degrees colder in the kitchen. In summer, that is nice. In winter, we had long ago dubbed it The Room You Don’t Go In.

So here’s the neat thing about poverty:  it takes forever to get anything done, and it is usually very hard work, but holy crow is is nice when a job is finished or when something you do works!

A couple of weeks ago our neighbor came over with his backhoe and dug a trench for us from the furnace we got last year to the house.




Then we took insulation and wrapped it around two lines of PEX pipe, and stuffed the whole thing through a big PVC pipe.  One end is hooked to the furnace, and one end is hooked to a pump which circulates water through a great deal more PEX tubing that is buried in my floor.  Which is why I have been paving my kitchen all summer.  Concrete floor, full of pipe.  Light the fire in the furnace outside, which is like a giant woodstove sitting inside a tank of water.  Water gets hot, pump pushes water through floor, floor gets warm.  Kitchen, ‘The Room You Don’t Go In’, is 16º!  And rising!

When you walk in my front door from the porch now, it is warmer in the house!!! There is still a lot of work to be done – eventually all the downstairs floor will be piped, the kitchen was just first because it was so very cold.  But because it is radiant heat it is already having an effect on the front room (which is next in line, being second-most-cold): the walls themselves will pick up heat from the floor, as will anything actually sitting on the floor.  So essentially everything in the house will become just a little bit warm.

This winter, barring the usual opportunities for horrible disaster, our house will be a home, not just a shelter.  Which is the best thing ever, because we love our house.