Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Push-Button Fire


Suddenly, Tater noticed something.
Almost forty years ago we bought a Vermont Castings wood stove and put it in the kitchen. Now it's gone.

It's done a great job for us. A lot of the time we didn't turn on any other heat. Over the years, the house got bigger and bigger, but the wood stove meant that in the winter, the man, the woman, the dog, and the cat were always in such close proximity that a single small explosive device could take us all out at once.

Our dog Boomer was really fond of the wood stove. She would park herself a foot in front of it and stick one hind leg straight up in the air, exposing her, well, her highly personal region to the heat. She always kept her highly personal region very clean--gracious, how clean she kept it! She cleaned it and cleaned it and cleaned it; you never saw a dog so devoted to personal hygiene. Why does she do that, I'd ask Dave, and he'd say because she can. And then she'd air it out in front of the stove.

Things change. Forty years ago, I hung out in the liberry for months and researched efficiency and quality and ratings and requested mail brochures to find the very best wood stove at the very best price. We had fluff blown into our old walls and had storm windows made and caulked everything in sight but the dog's highly personal region, and Dave and his brickie buddies put in a hearth and a chimney and installed the stove themselves.

This time, one of us mentioned that it might be a good idea to replace the old stove with a natural gas fake one. You know: some day. The next morning, Dave pantomimed standing in the kitchen and pushing an imaginary remote control button aimed at the stove: click. That afternoon, we Googled gas appliance retail outlets, picked one we could walk to, found a stove that looked okay, whipped out a VISA card, and started grousing about having to wait three weeks for installation. The guys are here today to install it. They're taking away the old one. I feel like we're abandoning an old friend. But I get over things like that fast. Especially if I have a remote control. Click.

The only downside is that Dave has devoted a lot of time since his retirement to looking in Dumpsters for dimensional lumber to scavenge for firewood. He'd haul it home in the pickup and saw it up and stack it. It's a little hobby. And now that the wood stove is gone, his Dumpster-diving is just going to look sad.

23 comments:

  1. I just about fell off my chair laughing at Pootie doing his Boomer impression!
    I'm sure Dave can think of something to do with all that cut and stacked wood and probably think of something else to dumpster dive for at the same time.

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    1. We still have a wood stove at the cabin. But I think at this point he just can't go past a dumpster without looking in.

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  2. Keep up with the dumpster diving, Dave! Americans are so profligate, throwing away perfectly good items that could be donated instead. At least they were back in the 90s, when Paul and I used to dumpster dive each graduation weekend at the local college. And we weren't the only ones. We even had a route planned of the most wasteful apartment buildings (for some reason, dorm dwellers weren't as wasteful), and drove around the town with our pickup truck. I even had a special tool, "pokey stick", made out of a bent curtain rod, for poking around deep into the dumpster. If it looked like we'd hit the mother lode, we'd climb on in. When we first moved in together, we found a lot of our furnishings this way.

    Some of our best finds: A huge load of black walnut lumber that Paul made our kitchen table and benches from (as well as a few other oddments). A sideboard for the kitchen, serendipitously enough when I had been just complaining about not having enough counter space. And a few weeks later, four wine boxes that fit perfectly onto the sideboard shelves to serve as drawers, after I'd been wishing that the sideboard had drawers instead of shelves. I still have that sideboard in my kitchen, as it has a wabi-sabi look that I love.

    Probably the strangest find was a bag of weed in the pockets of a pair of jeans. (I don't know what prompted me to look, but after that I searched all pockets of clothing.

    Although we no longer dumpster dive (Paul works weekends now, and the college has discouraged this practice by setting up donation locations for the students. Which is good, as I really objected to the wastefulness of these young people.) It was a lot of fun at the time, but I hope that we never need to go back to doing this.

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    1. I'll bet I could look in pockets for years and come up with nothing but used Kleenex. But I've heard a lot of stories about things being found in pockets of Goodwill finds. Hmmm. New hobby.

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    2. My friend Karen and I were shopping, she'd used the electric wheel-around shopping cart because she was having trouble walking. She checked out first, and when I came upon her still sitting in the cart, looking stunned, I asked, "Are you all right?" And she said, I was looking for a receipt in this purse I got at one of the thrift stores, and look what I found! It three one-hundred dollar bills and a Canadian ten! This never happens to me!!

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    3. Ho Lee Crap. Does that ever happen to you? No it does not. It happens to Karen and it happens to my sister. My sister can be the tenth person along on a hike and SHE'LL find the $100 bill.

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    4. My sister Gale is in that pantheon.

      She won every drawing we ever entered as well.

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    5. Something about this reminds me of when scratch-off lottery tickets first came out and because of novelty we bought some. We'd buy one for me, one for Dave, and one for Boomer. Three times in a row Boomer won. Finally someone said "Just buy three for Boomer."

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  3. Still, there is something therapeutic gathering, stacking and stoking to keep warm, that button pushing can't replace.

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    1. Twice-warm fire. Yes. I agree. Although his lumber is all Skil-Sawed instead of chopped, which is even more fun. Chopped is more fun, that is.

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  4. It is amazing what we throw away in this country. I am sure he can collect something new and fancy and worthlots of money.

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    1. I can't rule out that he just likes the smell of Dumpster in the morning.

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  5. Tater, I know cats love heat, but that's going a big far!

    How did you manage to get that shot, Murr? Assuming that Tater jumped down quite quickly afterward.

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    1. Yeah, it takes a while to warm up. We were certainly surprised. The only place on the counters where she will not step is the burners on our ceramic cook-top. She walked across one of those ONE TIME (and it wasn't even orange) and that was that. Not a complete idiot.

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  6. "bit far" not "big far" - sheesh

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  7. What is Dave going to do with all his spare time? Scavenge firewood for others?

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  8. It is not the same.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. Nope. Cleaner, easier, less destructive of the atmosphere, but not the same, I agree. We still have a wood stove at the cabin for the wood stove experience.

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  9. Hey, maybe Dave could start becoming creative and dumpster dive for items to create art or redo for furniture pieces! I moved into a manufactured home which was all electric, so I had a propane stove and propane fireplace like yours installed and it has the remove! Love it! In fact, I have some of my lamps on remotes as well. Just gotta remember which one is for which one!

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    1. Clap on! Clap off! Wait, what just went on and off?

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