Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rainy days bring pretty skies

I ran out just before 5 p.m. to pick up my fresh turkey from Mary's Pantry. It didn't actually come from there, but the nice lady who raises the turkeys in Mohawk was kind enough to drop it off so close to me on her way to Cooperstown.

The Husband's family (mother Rita, brother Brian and his wife Eve) are coming north to spend Thanksgiving with us. We are going to the Otesaga in Cooperstown for our Turkey Day meal, a tradition that The Hub and I began when we first started coming up here. There was no oven in The Dump, so I wasn't able to do my own turkey before; and the Otesaga Hotel has a wonderful afternoon buffet that costs only about $30 for every kind of wonderful food you could imagine, including the obvious turkey and stuffing. Since there is so much there to eat besides turkey, and since we are big lovers of Turkey Day leftovers, I decided to cook a turkey with all the good stuff on Friday.

It was close to 60° here today, and nice and sunny just long enough to lose Lester on the property again this afternoon. So nice he came back soaking wet after a dip in the creek (I guess). Early in the afternoon, sunny skies quickly traded for black clouds and a torrential downpour. The good thing about bad weather up here, is that it almost always makes for a perfect sunset. Getting much colder tomorrow, just in time for our visitors.

Check out my new house looking purty for Thanksgiving...and please take notice of the extended chimney flue with its new hat!
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Monday, November 22, 2010

Maybe she spoke too soon...

The woodstove worked perfectly, and heated the house pretty well too, for 2 nights in a row. Until I get the hang of this, I am afraid to leave the fire burning when I am not here, so I let it burn out overnight and start up again in the afternoon, when the house cools down. If I set off the smoke alarms again (FIRE, FIRE, FIRE! in a lovely and loud female voice) poor Sophie will never forgive me.

I tried again the third day, and it worked well until I turned down the air control so the fire would burn more slowly. I guess that was the wrong thing to do, because we smoked up all over again. Instead of shutting things down this time, though, I opened it all up and opened up some windows and the flames flared up and sent the smoke back up the chimney where it belongs.

I am starting to understand this drafting issue, but will probably scare my Sophie a few more times before I work out all the kinks.

Miss J read my comments about learning to cook on the woodstove, and sent me these 2 links:

Shortcut to: http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080123/LIFE/801230301

Thanks J! Once the holiday visitors are gone, I might actually get creative and try this. I must say it is nice though, to have a real stove for back-up.

Photo borrowed from Cape Cod Times / Ron Schloerb. I'll replace with my own as soon as I try it!
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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wow! A working woodstove!

Lester says: "See that big hunk of black metal in the background? Mom finally figured out how to use it without burning down the house."

When in doubt, trust the chimney sweep to come up with a solution to my smoking stove problem. Actually, he and Jim the Engineer came up with the same solution—raise the flue a foot higher than it was, and add a special down-draft-preventing chimney cap. Cost us $250, and now we have a $150 barely used cap that we don't need, but the problem appears to be solved, and rather inexpensively, considering the other options.

Since our last propane bill (for 2 months) was almost $350, even with our tight house, it will be interesting to see how much we can cut down propane usage by trying to heat with the woodstove. Mac and Jane kindly gave us a large supply of nicely dried hardwood for our help (mostly The Husband's help) in cutting, splitting and stacking the wood from their property.

So, now we are ready for winter in the North Country. I am already thinking of ways that I might be able to cook on top of the stove. Pizza on the pizza stone is sounding like a plan, scrambled eggs, pancakes...give me some time and I'll come up with more...
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Monday, November 15, 2010

Mass transportation and a warm but wintery fall

The Husband is away in Pittsburgh on his first business trip. What HE is going to miss about NJ, is that we were close to everything involving mass transportation. Up here, it is actually faster to drive 7 or more hours to Pittsburgh than to take a flight from either Albany or Syracuse, neither of which have direct flights.

From our house in NJ, we were no more than 20 minutes to the airport in Philly, and only a 10-minute walk to a light rail train that could take you to Philadelphia and Amtrak south, or Trenton and trains north. I still find it interesting that we are now in NY state, and it takes 4 or 5 hours to drive to NYC, but from southern NJ, I could walk to the train and it would take only 2.5 hours to get there.

Fall is looking like winter up here (not a leaf left on the trees) although the temps are still in the 50s. Lester has created his own walking trail—he loses me every time we go out. He reappears from the front of the property, usually coming down the driveway from the road, even though I lost him way in the back by the creek.

And the creek has been running wild, even though we have not had all that much rain since I have been up here. Wherever the creek begins, they must be getting more—global warming and all that. It is more difficult to cross the creek and get to the back of the property, but I do like the sound of running water. It is calming and helps me get to sleep at night...as long as the howling coyotes don't drown it out...
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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tis the season

Susan the Architect very kindly invited me to a wreath-making class in Cooperstown this morning. People always think I should be good at these arty projects, but in fact I am pathetic! The Husband says this looks like it was designed by Carmen Miranda. But it was great fun, and actually I think we will both grow to love it once we get the pumpkins off the porch and some more Christmas decorations out there. Most of my wreath is covered in juniper, with berries, so if I get tired of the Carmen-inspired cartouche (that's what they called it!) I can always strip some of that and just keep the juniper and the magnolia leaves on the back. This is actually a much more traditional Christmas wreath than some of the other artistic creations I saw, including Susan's...but this is her fourth year, so she's had some practice at creating art...

I left NJ on Friday, and it was 64° and sunny. I started out with the windows and sunroof open, but as I got farther north and the sun was going down, I had to put my jacket back on, close the windows and turn the heat on. There was frost here in the morning when I left for the wreath class, but when we finished around 10:30, it was already warming up.

There will be a lot of things I miss about NJ: my house for one, my gardens that I have been working on since I moved there in 1992, and yeah, probably those 64° days in November. But this new house is a fine replacement for my favorite old house, I have 22 acres for gardening experiments, and I am actually looking forward to a snowy winter here. The one thing I won't miss is all the traveling back and forth.
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This time last year

In order to get the scary clown pic off as the lead photo, I am doing a little dej√° vu segment for the Oregon Sis. In this photo, Lester and Sophie are patiently waiting for the big move into Lester's Flat, which you can almost see through the frosty windows in the background. This time last year we were still staying in The Dump. The weather was cold and rainy, as it is this year in November.

Very much unlike The Dump (and this old house in NJ) the new house is almost too warm and toasty. No matter how the wind is blowing out there, and it always is, it is never drafty or chilly in the house. I still don't have the heat turned on in all 4 zones, and the bedroom window is always cracked open a bit for fresh air. Apparently these are the 2 causes of my woodstove problems: that the wind is always blowing and the house is too tight.

Either this week or next, Caleb the Chimney Guy is supposed to come out and extend the chimney another foot above the roof peak. He will also install a different chimney cap that should eliminate down-drafting. If this does not completely eliminate the smoking problem, then we will take the second approach and install a vent through the wall to the outside that will let in fresh air as needed. Rather than leaving the windows constantly cracked a bit, the vent will only open as air is being drawn in—either by the woodstove, kitchen vent hood, or anything else that is trying to draw fresh air.

Both of these are somewhat inexpensive fixes that may or may not solve my problem; but the engineer, the chimney guy, and the store where I bought the stove all seem to agree that they will. I am counting on the professionals to be right on this one.
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Who were we?

The house in NJ isn't selling any more quickly with our new "aggressive" realtor—probably just an indication of how few people are in the mood to buy a house right now. Who were we to think we could take on a loan, build a new house and sell an old one during the worst economy in our lifetime? At least now that The Husband is working, we can afford to make it through the winter holidays (when absolutely nobody will be looking at our poor old lonely house).

I am thinking that Chazoo's Magic Barn (at the end of our long driveway) will probably not sell any time soon either, which is probably just as well for us. Our location is perfect in that we don't really have neighbors who will be bothered by our wandering pooches, but now that Chazoo is leaving us, we have no way of knowing who will be our new and closest neighbor. Let's just hope it isn't WalMart.

I have heard that Chazoo is not well, and that is the reason he is selling. I joke all the time about us buying our land from a clown, but really he is just a nice older guy who loves that land as much as we do. Sending some prayers for you, Chazoo...stay well.

I am making progress in packing up this old house this week. Lester and Sophie are here with me, remembering the good old times. We are just about ready for a walk to the Cookie House (hi Emma and Jack!). Make sure that cookie jar is full, this could be our last visit for awhile!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Burning down the house...not really.

This photo of the woodstove is from October 10, the first time I fired it up. Yes I know you're not supposed to store the logs on top...I was just getting ready to load them when The Husband took this photo. We also moved the church pew when it felt warm from being too close.

The first and second time were not a problem, but the third and fourth smoked up the whole house and set off the smoke alarms (which totally freaked out Sophie and the cats, Lester was not concerned at all). When I first had the smoke problem, it was minor and I only had kindling in the stove. Yesterday, after hearing from the place where I bought it that it might be a drafting issue, I had the whole thing loaded up but good! Had to close up the stove and open every window in the house before we could get the smoke alarms to stop yelling at us (FIRE...FIRE...FIRE!)

The best answer would be that our flue is blocked somehow (bird's nest?) and the chimney sweeps will solve the problem this week. But if that, or some sort of installation snafu is not the problem, I fear we will be headed down some road I don't want to take (like my house is too tight).

Needless to say I won't be using my Harman Oakwood until this issue is resolved.

The second photo is one of those pretty pics (of my favorite view) that I never had the chance to post. It is from Labor Day weekend, otherwise known as the Day of the Porcupine.
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