Curing the Masonry Heater

Curing the Masonry Heater

We had a busy weekend at the little house in the city. On the drive there, on Saturday, I began to feel ill. I did not feel any better when we arrived at the little house. I knew what was wrong with me, it was an infection, and that I would need antibiotics, but I could not get them without a prescription. Finally, at 8:00 p.m. I decided to take myself to the emergency ward at the hospital; there were no other health care options. I was at the hospital for four and half hours.

After being “triaged”, and since I had no fever, I gave my fluid samples, then waited for an hour in the outer waiting room, which was not too crowded. I was then taken into the examination room. I slept on the chair in that room for about two hours, waking to have my temperature taken several times, then decided to lie down on the bed and sleep, until my first visit from the doctor. After that it was only a matter of taking the first dose of the medication and staying under surveillance for twenty minutes to ensure no allergic reaction, and off I headed home.

I am no longer comfortable going to the emergency room at the hospital for routine medical care. And I did find out that a nearby hospital, not the one I visited, had admitted a patient who is under surveillance for Ebola. Today it was announced that the patient did not have Ebola, which is good on so many levels. I won’t be visiting hospital emergency wards for medical care again in the near future, unless I am on death’s door. Other options will have to be explored, but if we are lucky we will not need a emergency care for the next few years.

On Sunday we had a lovely turkey dinner at Terra and Lares house. Terra cooked us a lovely meal, with all the holiday trimmings, a delicious pumpkin pie, and cheered by Thanksgiving decorations she had made herself. We had a great time, just hanging out. Lares Granny and best friend were there. Granny brought a homemade apple pie!

Monday we finally got up into the attic to see where the mice were getting into the wall, and thence into the tool cupboard. After having a good look at the entry point, Attila decided that he could not address it immediately. So our only actions were to place a live trap in the attic, and a mouse trap in the tool cupboard. These will need to be checked on the next visit. I will be researching possible techniques to block entry to the tool cupboard from the attic.

For now it is a tough go for me to get into the attic on my own. The “door” is a piece of drywall mounted on a frame of 2x4s, it is not insulated, and is extremely heavy. Also the opening is quite small, making it awkward to get in there when standing at the top of the ladder. I can do it, but it is quite an undertaking for me. I have drawn up my plans to replace the “door” with a lighter, insulated version.

The drive home was arduously long! The roads were busy with people travelling on the holiday Monday. We left at 1:30 p.m. and did not arrive home until almost dark. Mist was surprisingly unperturbed by our two night absence, and happily accepted cuddling, and a fresh bowl of milk.

We theorize that when we brought her back to the country house, after two weeks at the little house in the city, she didn’t recognize where she was, and that triggered the distress she experienced for several days. Eighteen years is old age for cats, and it is quite possible that she has memory issues.

Today I began to cure the masonry heater with six consecutive, tiny burns. This process takes five days. Each of these days requires a person to be available at frequent intervals to build and burn the small fires, that increase incrementally in size as the days pass. It is a simple process, not hard to do, just time consuming. It usually falls to me exclusively, as I was working only occasionally, and now not at all. By this weekend it will be ready for a full firing, and be ready to heat the house for the winter.

Attila came home late from work, wet and hungry. After a big bowl of the chili made today, and some rye bread, he felt fortified enough to begin the task of installing the new hot water heater. It will take three or four days, because he has to work on it after work, and after the bringing in the wood for curing the masonry heater.

The municipal elections begin today. I will be very glad when they are over, all the ugly signs will be removed, the blowsy rhetoric will cease, and the new councils get to work. I hope that this time round we get a better crop in the winner’s circle, it has been a very grim political scene in many of our municipalities these last years. Good leadership, concerned with the issues of the majority of constituents, would not go amiss, with the world the way it is these days.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 7:00 AM EDT Tuesday 14 October 2014
Condition: Mist
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Visibility: 5 km
Temperature: 14.5°C
Dewpoint: 14.0°C
Humidity: 97%
Wind: ESE 17 gust 30 km/h


“We know what a person thinks not when he tells us what he thinks, but by his actions.”
Isaac Bashevis Singer
1904 – 1991

Herein lies the shortcomings of the digital age. We are drowning in flickering words and images, where actions are easily manipulated and distorted.


  1. Thanks Joan, I am feeling much, much better! Unfortunately, my four hour wait at the hospital emergency was short, compared to other wait times I have experienced in the emergency rooms in Ontario, some wait times are more than eight hours, and in Ontario some people have died in the waiting rooms, waiting for care. The hospital near our little house in the city is very good compared to all the other’s I have visited!

  2. WendyNC

    Maggie, glad you got the treatment you needed, even if it did take a long time. The last time I was in an ER (for antibiotics after breaking up a dog fight), I swore I’d never go to one again unless I truly needed emergency services. We are fortunate that we now have a local emergency clinic for the things that need attention sooner than regular physician office hours but which are not life-threatening. They’re open later into the evening and on weekends. We’ve found services there to be quite satisfactory for our few needs of that type.

    It’s nice to read that Mist is getting more comfortable with having her people come and go. It’s tough to be an old kitty. I’m quite confident that she’ll greatly approve of having the masonry heater going again.

  3. Wendy, I like the idea of local emergency clinics, we don’t really have anything like that in the areas where we live. There are clinics, but they aren’t open in the evenings as a rule, or on weekends, as a rule. I have to say that the care I have received in the emergency rooms near the country house and the city house have been top notch. The wait times are long.

    I think your right about Mist’s approval of the masonry heater, lol, she came upstairs this afternoon to sit in front of it, sniffing with delight. It isn’t throwing any real warmth yet, so she lost interest and headed back to her eiderdown. By the end of the week there will be heat though, and I will move her kitty basket bed over beside the heater so she has a nice warm place to curl up.

  4. When I had breathing issues in Santa Fe, NM 2 years ago, I landed in the ER because I thought I might be having a reoccurrence of pulmonary embolisms. (It was once I got home that I was diagnosed with IPF.) Anyway, on the way to the ER I imagined I’d be receiving fine care – after all, Santa Fe is a veryveryvery wealthy town. I neglected to remember that it was Saturday night and lots of gang related traffic would be coursing through the ER. It was an ordeal. I still have the plastic medical bracelet they used… Irene Fucton. It was a marvelous typo. We laughed so hard, it was no wonder my oxygen saturation was 83. 🙂

    Glad you’re feeling better. xo

  5. I started getting nervous, reading about your infection. Just went through an infection problem with DH that took him two weeks to come back from – and, actually, he’s still getting some swelling in his leg. 🙁

    I’m guessing that it’s nearly impossible for you to find a doctor up north? I know it took us about 2 years of looking to find one here in a large metro area of Canada.

    Have you considered getting an attic ladder for accessing your attic? I was just looking and Home Depot has some. I’m guessing places like Home Hardware and such would, also.

    Take care of yourself. Infections are tricky things.

  6. Thanks Nora, I am feeling much better. The apple pie was very good, by all accounts. The turkey soup is I can personally vouch for, although it won’t be ready for another few days; Attila has a way with turkey soup.

  7. Teri, we have a GP (general practitioner) one hour from our country house, that is as close as is practical. It is a two hour time commitment to access his services, the hospital is just down the street from him. The round trip takes a significant amount of fuel for the car, so we take a doctor’s visit very, very seriously.

    Thank you for your concern about the infection, I am keeping an eye on it, and following all the tips for care that I found on the internet on sites like The Mayo Clinic. I have my fingers crossed and am feeling 100% already, but of course, it isn’t over until the medication is all gone. Then we will see.

    I did think about an attic ladder, but the area is too small to accommodate one; we call it the little house for a very good reason, lol. My precaution will be to only work in the attic when I have a companion in the house, and to have my cell phone in my pocket while I am working up there.

    I already have plans on how to block access to the wall studs, to keep the mice out! I am looking forward to trying it out!

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