October 22, 2005

Counting our blessings.



Here are a few of my favorite online haunts:
[This is the site I visit to fantasize about living in Toronto again, which is almost every single day during the winter]

Jonathan Cainer's Zodiac Forecasts
[This is where I visit in the morning, when I need a positive spin on things past, present and future.]

Living Local
[This is where I go to see what Canadians are up to, sometimes I even buy things from the businesses listed there.]

Environment Canada Weather
[This is the site I visit every morning, and before every road trip during the winter]

It is 5:30 a.m. I am sitting at my desk looking out the window. The moon is bright and the first snow thinly blankets the landscape beyond the glass.

Gratitude. I am warm.
Joy. I have found work.
Peace. For the moment.

Our masonry heater is a wonder. It took five days to cure it, burning four or five small fires throughout each day to drive out moisture and prepare the core for the intense heat of a full burn. The curing began on October 9 and within two days the house was 18 degrees centigrade. It has since ranged from 16 to 22 degrees centigrade, depending on how much wood we used in the firings the day before. What truly amazes me is that the heat is so evenly distributed, even the back bedroom is comfortably warm.

Last winter we heated the house with the little cast iron wood stove downstairs. It took tremendous care to keep the house heated, the fire needed to be fed every 30 to 40 minutes. We were not comfortable with a fire burning as we slept, so it was out for six or seven hours each night. By morning the house had chilled to around 10 to 12 degrees centigrade, colder in the bedrooms. When it was extremely cold (-37 degrees centigrade) we just stayed up most of the night feeding the wood stove. Nine cords of wood were used over the winter.

The masonry heater burns two to three fires a day, using a maximum of 50 pounds of wood per fire and 100 pounds of wood per day. That means the fire is tended a maximum of three times a day. Each firing burns intensely for one to two hours, depending on the type and quantity of wood used. Yesterday we did two 30 pound firings.

We are using wood Attila felled on our property. Since it is but autumn, the temperatures are still relatively mild, hovering around freezing at night. The wood used right now need not provide maximum heat output, so that we are using less dense woods such as pine and poplar. In the dead of winter we will burn oak and maple.

Attila fells, sections, splits, stacks and totes the wood. Two or three times a day he piles thirty pounds of split wood before the masonry heater. Then it is my turn to rake the ashes, build the fire, set it and ensure that we get a good burn.

The masonry heater works wonderfully well. Over the last weeks I have learned a lot about how to build fires using different kinds of wood. I have found that the type of wood affects how it splits, and that in turn affects how the fire must be built. I find it easiest to build oak and maple fires, and slightly more challenging to build poplar, pine and birch fires. In all cases however, the top down burn is extremely effective in getting a good, energy efficient burn.

And so our winter ritual has been established. Attila selects and delivers the wood, I build and light the fire. Then it is time to sit with our tea and coffee before the blaze. We gaze into the flames, grateful all the while for the warmth, for each other and for all our good fortune.

Top of Page

Worldly Distractions

Fall Coloured Leaves
Last of the Leaves

By the Easy Chair
Stealing Heaven
by Marion Meade

Crackling Fire

On the Screen
Big Fish

Time 9:00 A.M. EDT
Temp 2°C
Wind E 7 km/h  
Rel Humidity 87%
Pressure 101.42 kPa

masonry fireplace wood heat

Page by Page: A Woman's Journal
by Maggie Turner

Canadian Maggie Turner writes and publishes poetry, photography, and a personal journal online. Her work reflects the current way of life in Canada, embracing Canada's past, present, and future in a unique portrayal of everyday life. Maggie's voice is one of the many that actively depict the rich diversity of Canadian culture.

Photography: "a term which comes from the Greek words photos (light) and graphos (drawing). A photograph is made with a camera by exposing film to light in order to create a negative. The negative is then used in the darkroom to print a photograph (positive) onto light-sensitive paper.
Source: University of Arizona Glossary

Poetry: "a form of speech or writing that harmonizes the music of its language with its subject. To read a great poem is to bring out the perfect marriage of its sound and thought in a silent or voiced performance. At least from the time of Aristotle's Poetics, drama was conceived of as a species of poetry."
Source: Creative Studios

Journal: " "Though a journal may be many things - a treasury, a storehouse, a jewelry box, a laboratory, a drafting board, a collector's cabinet, a snapshot album, a history, a travelogue..., a letter to oneself - it has some definable characteristics. It is a record, an entry-book, kept regularly, though not necessarily daily.... Some (entries) will be nearly illegible, written in the dark in the middle of the night.... Not only is it a record for oneself, but of oneself. Every memorable journal, any successful journal, is honest. Nothing sham, phony, false...." (Dorothy Lambert from Ken Macrorie's book, Writing to be Read )
A journal is a way to keep track of your thoughts about what you read... as well as what you did on any given day."
Source: Journal Writing

A Blog is an online journal created by server side software, often hosted by a commercial interest.

"The term "weblog" was coined by Jorn Barger[4] on 17 December 1997. The short form, "blog," was coined by Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word weblog into the phrase we blog in the sidebar of his blog in April or May 1999.[5][6][7] Shortly thereafter, Evan Williams at Pyra Labs used "blog" as both a noun and verb ("to blog," meaning "to edit one's weblog or to post to one's weblog") and devised the term "blogger" in connection with Pyra Labs' Blogger product, leading to the popularization of the terms."

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