Cold Out There

Last night was a bit colder than expected, -29C at six this morning. Attila’s diligent attention to the hearth fires yesterday has succeeded in keeping the house reasonably comfortable. There is just a touch of chill in the air, in the house, this morning. I must dress warmly to stay comfortable. If I dress warmly I am comfortable.

Today is the last day of January, thank goodness. This morning when Attila left for work there was enough light in the sky that we could actually see one another clearly to wave goodbye, facial expressions and all. The distant horizon was pink and silver behind him, and now, an hour or so later, the tips of the tree tops are blazing in the sunshine.

Yesterday we made a quick dash to the village to buy some bread, and other supplies. There is a small store about five miles from here, but it only sells bread contaminated with my allergen, and prices are much higher there than in the village. The drive into the village was beautiful: sparkling snow, white frosted evergreens, blue, blue sky. It was great to get out for a few hours.

Attila is also coming down with cabin fever. We are busy making escape plans. Making plans temporarily alleviates the worst of the symptoms. Cabin fever is about failing human interconnections, and develops slowly as human connections slow or cease. Digital contact helps, but it only addresses the symptoms and is not a solution.

My shower this morning was akin to a polar bear dip, as I stepped out of the shower and into the icy bathroom. Very invigorating. My clothes had been warming on the hearth for quite some time, so I sprinted to the masonry heater to dry myself and don my warmed clothing.

This is an old video about masonry heaters, one I hadn’t seen before; this is not us, our masonry heater or our home. This must have been produced in southern climes, because when it is -29C outside, you need three “50 pound” fires every day, and that is not a small armful of wood by any means. Regardless, our masonry heater heats our house using about 12 face cords of wood per winter. That is a lot of wood and a lot of work, but we are almost exclusively “off-grid” when it comes to heat in the winter.

Worldly Distractions


-29 °C
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 103.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -29.0°C
Dewpoint: -31.7°C
Humidity: 78 %
Wind: 4 km/h
Wind Chill: -33


“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.”
H. P. Lovecraft
1890 – 1937


“A masonry heater (or masonry stove) is a device for warming a home (or any interior space) that captures the heat from periodic burning of fuels (primarily wood), and then radiates that heat over a long period at a fairly constant temperature. The technology exists in many forms from the Roman hypocaust to the Austrian/German kachelofen. The hypocaust is a system for heating the floors and walls of buildings (especially baths) using the smoke and exhaust of a single fire. In Eastern and Northern Europe and North Asia, these kachelofens (or steinofens) evolved in many different forms and names, such as a Russian Stove/Fireplace (Russian: Русская печь), a Finnish Stove (in Finnish: pystyuuni or kaakeliuuni, “tile oven”) and the Swedish Stove (in Swedish: kakelugn, “tile stove” or “contra-flow stove”) associated with Carl Johan Cronstedt. The Chinese developed the same principle into their Kang bed-stove.”