22 Comments

For a couple of years now I've been living without central heat in the wintertime (not in the extreme north or south, however) ... and since I now have the body composition of Skinny Pete but as an Old Lady, when it's cold I'm constantly worried about electric power going out or the propane tank being empty.

My dream: a rocket stove heater enclosed in lovely insulating adobe, and ability to wrangle wood-getting and fire-starting on my own.

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I would love that too. I've been dreaming of wood heat for years, and stoves are so efficient now....

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No central heat here either (Livingston MT). It's a small house and when I bought it there was a gas heater in the living room that I kind of loved for the "tick tick tick tick WHOOSH" it made when you turned it on. Replaced that a few years back with a 2nd hand woodstove, and infrared electric heaters up by the ceillngs as backup. I like having multiple heat sources in case of outages, although my equivalent of worrying about propane is buying wood in late summer. Which kind of wood? Who is selling? Is it any good or is it crap like that cord of pine I bought 2 years ago that I swear, did not throw any heat at all?

Himself also doesn't have central heat in his brick house over by the fairgrounds. A very old fashioned wood burner in the living room that I love -- a cast iron monster with an enameled steel surround that works as a kind of a chimney, but also diffuses the heat just enough that you can lean up against it. And in his kitchen, his O'Keefe and Merrit stove unit still has a heater on one side instead of an oven. Keeps the kitchen bathroom area from freezing. Actually keeps it nice and toasty. Again, lots of insulation and the fact that we're both way happier sleeping at 55-60, and it works. Although he's putting in hot water baseboards this winter -- finally has time to build a system around that old boiler he's had stored in the shed for decades.

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I love all this.

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I'm another wood stove only haver. I'm in relatively temperate Portland, but despite the near constant train of diesel semis that rumble down the main street just one block from my house, and the superfund site in the Willamette Harbor a few blocks from me, and the propane storage yard just across the river that will explode if the big earthquake does hit, Portland is cracking down hard on wood burning stoves. I understand - the particulates can be hell for some, but I'm sad that I may not be able to use this relatively clean and almost entirely self-sufficient means of heating for much longer.

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Missoula has an "air shed" too where you can't have wood stoves due to the pollution that results from the winter inversions we have. I'm outside of it.

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Dec 12, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

Hi Chris!

I love this story.

You best keep an eye focused on that guage! I highly suspect that your wife is an Angel!

I lived in a house that was solely heated with a wood stove. Guess who did all of the splitting, stacking, hauling, and keeping the home fires burning? Not to mention cleaning the stove and carrying ashes to the woods and THOROUGHLY dousing them with water. When I left the marriage, within a month my ex had installed a complete oil burning system. Hahahahaha! I guess that the joke was on me but I am way beyond it now.

I am just wishing everyone plenty of comforting heat and a cozy place to rest. I have to say that 59 degreesF is as low as I can go!

Cheers!

Melissa

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59 inside is colder than I prefer too, unless I'm piled under blankets and sleeping.

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Dec 12, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

"That’s actually a lie, I don’t remember what we did to be honest with you." Was it callous of me to laugh out loud when I read this line? I hope not, b/c I chuckled. Thanks for sharing this essay. I had not gotten to it in the One Sentence Journal yet. I really enjoy reading about growing-up experiences.

You reminded me of my time in college when I worked for our campus boiler mechanic. We had four boilers that heated the majority of the University of Portland. I spent several summers digging steam vault pits, steam line trenches, and fitting 6" schedule 80 steam line. (Big dang wrenches were so fun to tote around campus.) The boiler mechanic - Van, short for Van Doren, ended up at Reed College, where he loved it. He was one of the smartest guys I ever met on campus, including faculty.

I am thankful every day (to answer your query from a few weeks ago) for my experience working in the trades - hod carrier, boiler mechanic's lacky, metal fabrication and autoshop go-fer, framing, and concrete work to name a few. This experience in particular makes me appreciate heat. And the steam whistle that blew out of MSU's Bozeman heat plant to start and finish each term when I professed there - I miss that.

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I love trades-work, even though I don't have much knack for it.

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This is the most relatable story. I can almost smell the popcorn and feel the cold crackle of the flooring down the hall. Aaaand forgetting to check the propane before it's too late would be my signature move.

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Mmmmm, popcorn smell....

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Dec 13, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

Ahem...

https://youtu.be/Gc1URQgQWNo

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Ha!

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founding

I miss wood heat. There’s so many things that can be warmed on or alongside a wood stove, and the cats always slept underneath. Now I smile every morning when I see The Cat hugging the boiler’s heat ducts on cold mornings. I don’t even need to check the thermometer: I know it’s cold when Milo is up next to the ducts.

The popcorn popper story always gives me a smile. Thanks for that.

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That's one of my favorite things about wood heat too, the other things its attending to simultaneously.

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Dec 13, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

S'good. Liked it in one sentence journal and liked reading it again tonight. Cheers.

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Thanks for reading, Kristopher.

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Dec 12, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

Propane veteran as well.

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I salute you.

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Dec 12, 2021Liked by Chris La Tray

Been there. Done that. I'd swear the propane company always told us it would take a week to get to us, even though it was usually just a couple of days, just to get us to pay the emergency rate. It helped when we upgraded from a 100 to a 300 gallon tank but what really helped was when we got a wifi reader for the tank level. Otherwise it meant shoveling a path to the tank just to check the propane level. https://www.lowes.com/pd/Generac-Wi-Fi-LP-Fuel-Level-Monitor/5001473701

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I see BBQ grills and refrigerators and who knows what else have wifi too now. Crazy.

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