Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘fireplace

New Perch

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Cyndie took me shopping for a new recliner and we came home with a new perch to kick back in while watching the fire. Guess what I did every chance I got for the rest of the weekend?

It amounted to about 15 minutes total, but that was because I had a lunch date in St. Paul on Saturday, company for dinner in the evening, and was outside most of yesterday’s Second Sunday toiling in the nice sunshine, while Cyndie was hosting my niece, Liz, and three of her kids in an extravaganza of collage making and cookie baking.

I was able to join them in the labyrinth for a quick circuit while the kids covered about twice my distance after they had visited with the horses and chickens.

Time in the cozy new chair will come in the long nights ahead with winter precipitation sure to fall.

In the mean time, I’ll need to make sure we have enough firewood.

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Written by johnwhays

November 13, 2017 at 7:00 am

Getting Home

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Our rushed onset of a snow season made my commute home yesterday a little more adventurous than I expected. There had been flurries throughout the day, but all that did was make things wet by the time I was ready to drive home.

The closer I got to Wisconsin, the more intense the falling snow became. A weather update on the radio mentioned increased chances for accumulation of 3-4 inches in our area.

I noticed a drop in visibility as the flakes intensified, but the road surface wasn’t presenting any problem. I hoped the heavy precipitation was keeping the deer bedded down, so I could have one less thing to worry about.

When I made the turn onto our street, the surface was more than just wet. It was starting to look a lot like winter.

Cyndie was already moving the horses into the barn for the night when I pulled up the driveway. She said the chickens showed no concern over staying out in the snow while there was still daylight, even though she took a shot at tempting them back into the coop early.

After parking my car and making my way inside, I set about preparing a reward for Cyndie to find when she returned from chores in the barn. Then I leaned back in the recliner and soaked up being home, safe and sound.

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Written by johnwhays

November 2, 2017 at 6:00 am

Night Off

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I got home from work yesterday and all I wanted to do was not work on the chicken coop. So that’s what I did, with Cyndie’s blessing. When I walked in the door, I found a fire burning in the fireplace and it was enough to squelch any lingering motivation to rush out into the chilly grayness of the fading day to pick up where I’d left off on the design-on-the-fly construction project.dscn5278e

I delved into some acoustic guitar music in my iTunes library and created a playlist to serve as soundtrack for luxuriating on the couch in front of the warm glow of burning logs with friends, while Cyndie made magic in the kitchen. It was divine.

Life is good.

If you don’t stop and take that in every once in a while, you might miss it.

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Written by johnwhays

October 13, 2016 at 6:00 am

Warm Indoors

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It has been darn cold the last few days. It has an extra bite because we had been experiencing such un-winterlike conditions up until now, and got lulled into complacency. I finally realized I should pull an actual winter coat out of the closet, the one with my scarf tucked in the sleeve.

I got a good chuckle out of the legendary former Minnesota Vikings coach, Bud Grant, walking out to the ceremonial coin toss prior to last Sunday’s playoff game on national TV, without a jacket on. It was below zero and he was wearing a purple Vikings short-sleeved polo shirt, flaunting the Minnesotan hardiness.

Last night we chose indoor recreation, with a wonderful fire to make it extra warm and cozy. Cyndie had designs on making chicken parmesan, and talked George into bringing his pasta machine over. He showed up with that, and more. Can you say, “homemade ice cream?”

Oh, but that’s not all. He also made chocolate sauce to go with it, and brought some fruit toppings.

Good thing I was appropriately prudent with my choices earlier in the day, and had headroom left over in my sugar quota to enjoy my favorite treat, guilt-free.

The highlight of the evening was Cyndie’s glee over her first successful made-from-scratch pasta making, under George’s helpful tutelage. He arrived in time to intervene on her baking tendency to add flour continuously while working the dough. Together, with a little water, they got the consistency back from being too dry and the pasta turned out great.

We enjoyed a treasure of an evening, laughing in the kitchen while preparing food, luxuriating in sitting down to eat the food, and then hanging by the fireplace to play cards, eat ice cream, play guitars, and thrill in the joy of simply being together.

Indoors. Where it is warm, and life is good.

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DSCN4345eI stored the ice cream George brought, out on the deck, where it was a lot colder than our freezer. Plus, there wasn’t any spare room in the freezer, anyway.

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Written by johnwhays

January 13, 2016 at 7:00 am

It Missed!

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It turned out that my concerns were unwarranted yesterday about even more rain falling on our already saturated grounds. From my repeated checks of the radar all day, it looked like a wall was keeping the surging mass of precipitation from moving north past a certain point. As it reached the southern boundary of our county, it stopped its advance and just seemed to slide past us to the northeast.

DSCN4200eThis doesn’t mean that we dried out any. On the contrary. The sky remained heavily overcast and the dew point high enough that wetness continued to be the order of the day.

It was a good day to have the warm glow of a fire in our fireplace!

Happily, the lack of actual falling rain was a break for our horses, allowing them to avoid the cold soaking that rain in December involves.

The bleakness of our landscape lingers on. According to forecasts, the next possibility for freezing temperatures comes at the end of this week.

Even if it doesn’t bring a dose of accumulating snow, I will be happy to at least have the wet ground turn frozen, to give us a break from the frustrating mud.

I’m pretty certain that frozen leaves will provide less hazardous footing than the wet leaves over slippery mud which we are currently enduring.

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Written by johnwhays

December 14, 2015 at 7:00 am

Fires Return

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DSCN4193eOur chimney is fixed! What joy! But I don’t see how Santa is ever going to fit down it now.

It was back in the middle of October when we had our fireplace and chimney inspected, which I wrote about at the time in a post titled, “Important Inspection.”

They discovered evidence of there having been a chimney fire sometime in the past, which resulted in cracking of the original clay tiles lining the chimney.

Never fear, that company just so happens to also install chimney liners, for a (not so) small fee. At least they provide clear photographic evidence of the areas of concern, which our insurance company accepted without hesitation. Our repairs were covered in full, after we pay the (not so small) deductible amount on our policy.

DSCN4194eThis project benefited from the wonderful luck of the original chimney dimensions being large enough to make it one of the easiest installations possible, according to the guys.

They installed sections of stainless steel tubing inside the old clay tiles from the top of the chimney and didn’t need to break out any of the existing structure to complete the job.

A cement rated for high temperature is also used around the outside of the tube. Everything gets sealed and then checked for leaks. When they finished our installation, one of the guys burned some paper in the fireplace to verify the draft was good, and that was that.

It was instantly available for use. That meant I needed to haul some wood!

Cyndie and I filled the rack on the deck with one fully-stacked row of split logs from the wood shed. I had mixed emotions about the excitement of finally making use of wood that has been drying for a full year, and comical distress over seeing the stores in the wood shed decline at such a rapid rate.

DSCN4196eI also found myself surprised over how moving it felt to have a fire in the fireplace once again. It has been almost 2 months since we learned of the problem, and at the time of year when we especially cherish the return of this cozy enhancement.

It refocuses the energy center on our main floor back to the special space that functions as our “living room,” with the couch providing a vantage point that takes in the fireplace centerpiece, as well as the doors and windows on either side providing views of the great outdoors beyond.

It doesn’t hurt that we just so happen to be undergoing a magical transformation into a Christmas wonderland this weekend, as a result of Cyndie’s never-ending visionary efforts.

I think the addition of last night’s fire provided her with just the right spark as a bonus.

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Written by johnwhays

December 12, 2015 at 7:00 am

Frozen Season

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DSCN4121eThe frozen season has finally arrived. It’s got me wanting to have a fire, and since we still aren’t able to have one indoors due to the cracks in the flue, I started one in our outdoor pit.

I was working nearby to change out the base of my Smart Splitter® log splitter. Having a fire nearby provided more than just a place to warm up, it created an ambiance of purpose and energy.

I get great pleasure from finally knocking off tasks that have lingered untended for far too long. The base of the splitter was a necessary project because the old one finally started to break up from the pounding that the old decaying wood was taking. In contrast, the task of adding boards to the pallets that form the floor of the wood shed was one of convenience which had been too easily postponed, again and again.DSCN4122e

Yesterday became the day.

First, I needed to dismantle more of the spare pallets I had collected from work, just as I had done to build hay boxes recently. In previous years, the pallets I brought home from work had a full surface of boards, but the supplier figured out they could accomplish the same goal with less lumber. Now they come with half as many boards.

In July when we were stacking hay, I needed to steal some pallets from the wood shed. They were the old ones with a full surface of boards.

The next pallets that became available when I was seeking replacements, ended up being the ones with every other board. That became a real ankle twister when I was trying to stack wood.

Yesterday, I dismantled new pallets to get boards that I could use to create a complete deck on the ones already in the wood shed. My ankles are saved! Now it’s time to take advantage of the below freezing temperatures and split some logs.

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Written by johnwhays

November 21, 2015 at 11:09 am