Thursday, January 3, 2008

Happy New Year from an Old House

Here it is, the first post of the New Year. It's a good thing that blogspot fills in the date for me, otherwise I'm sure this post would be erroneously dated January 3rd, 2007. It always takes me a month or two to get the year straight.

I had a great weekend with a visit from my parents, who brought some very thoughtful and lovely gifts. The first was a nice black granite plaque with our last name on it to hang on the pillar out front. Once I get it hung up, I'll take a picture and post it. We tried to hang it while they were here, but once again the house proved stubborn.

The brick in the pillar is the same brick as the house and we found out that even when using a masonry bit, that the brick is haaaard. After struggling for an hour or so and only making a 1/4 inch hole in the brick, we gave up. New Year's day I went out and bought more bits, and after another few hours of work, there are now four holes in the pillar. Once I get some screws, it should be a snap to hang up the plaque (ever the optimist).

The second gift was a framed cross stitch done by my mom of the house. It even has the house number on it and at the bottom is "He who loves an old house never loves in vain." It's already hanging up from the picture rail in the living room.

The last major gift was for my birthday and was a gas grill. We didn't get time to put it together yet, so it's still sitting out in the sun room, in the box. There were several other nice gifts, but those were the most notable.

Sunday I tried to start a fire in the fireplace, against the recommendations of the chimney sweep we had out several months ago. It seems that the chimney flue is supported by only one brick, rather than two or more, and that there is creosote between the flue and the brick, meaning there is a leak somewhere between the flue liner and the brick.

I couldn't resist the temptation to light a fire over the holidays. The desire for heat and light near the shortest days of the year is a strong one. Unfortunately, the only wood I had was unsplit and what had been left outside, in the snow. While I was hoping for a cheery, yuletide log blazing forth with heat, what I got was a spluttering, anemic, tired fire. It was a clear indication that I need to split some wood and put some where it will be sheltered from the elements. One more thing to add to the list of things to do.

The chimney drew very well, even with my pathetic fire and the next day the house didn't smell like smoke or campfire so that at least was good. And when I finally clean the fireplace this weekend, I just have to push all the ash into the ash dump where I can clean it out of the basement later. Fabulous.

Ms Huis' aunt was very kind to send to me a Christmas present of half a bar of peat. I dearly miss the smell of peat from our time in Ireland. It is a very distinctive smell and will always remind me of cozy, warm nights in winter (usually with a pint in a pub). She also made it very clear that the peat was not to be construed as some sort of stand in for coal (which made me laugh). If I can get a good fire going yet this winter, I'll have to throw it on.

We also got the phones wired while the parents were here. There is no longer any danger of tripping over a phone wire snaking in through a screen door, under an outside door, and past the main door into the kitchen. It is now properly done. My father has been working for a telephone company for almost 40 years (although he'll tell you he hasn't done installation work in probably 35 years), so the work is top grade professional. I wish I could get the same level of workmanship from all of my contractors, and of course the price was right too. :)

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