The Camp

Attila and I spent our day off at the camp. Tree felling was suspended for the day, as the brush from the previously felled trees still needed to be gathered and stacked. Attila did the brush clearing at the camp, while I setup the rocket stove temporarily at Granny and Grandpa’s house.

Yesterday, Sunday, the mosquitoes were as thick and aggressive as I have ever experienced them!

First, I took a trip to the local dump, where usable items are displayed in a covered area, and donations are accepted for items taken. The goal was to find a gas stove burner grate. Since there is no gas service in the countryside, there were no natural gas stoves at the dump. Electric stove elements there were in abundance, so I took a few to see if they would work. But they were barely adequate, so the search is still on to find a free grate.

While at the dump “store”, I also picked up four old plastic lawn chairs, all in good working order, and some beautiful dishes and mugs. It seems that people who buy beautiful dish-ware want whole sets, and when some of the pieces break, they discard the rest of the set to purchase a new one. The camp now has beautiful mugs, glasses, dinner plates, and bowls. Goodness, we haven’t even got a driveway yet, and we are almost ready to entertain!

While at the dump, I ran into my cousin and his wife, who were giving visiting friends a tour of the local area. My cousin has a cottage in the area. My cousin had not recognized me, and told me that he saw me there, but thought I must be “a local”. I laughed, because I certainly looked “local”. I had been working outside, wearing a stained, oversized white shirt, grubby trousers, rubber boots, hat, but not my mosquito net. I was also sweaty and bedraggled from pulling vines out from around the foundation at Granny and Grandpa’s house. We chatted for a little bit, and then they carried on with their motor tour. They planned on driving by the camp, to see how we are getting along. Attila said they slowed down and waved; but could not stop as there is no shoulder on the road to speak of, and we do not yet have a driveway.

As I arrived back at Granny and Grandpa’s, Attila was coming down the road for a break. So we sat on the porch, with our sandwiches and cold beverages, and enjoyed the sound of the bumble bees in the lilacs, and birds in the bush.

The porch at Granny and Grandpa’s is high, hip height, with no stairs. I was managing to get up and down, but not enjoying it much. So Attila found an old broken ladder where he works, cut it down to four rungs, smoothed the edges, and voila! We now have our very own, custom designed, entry ladder for the porch.

After our break, Attila returned to the camp to continue clearing brush, and I set about constructing the rocket stove. The construction took all of about ten minutes. It took an additional five minutes to gather dry twigs for fuel. And it took another fifteen minutes to walk down to the camp, chat with Attila, and ask for the matches he had in his pocket. Note to self, bring matches!

The first attempt to light the twigs failed. Every stove has its own draft requirements. So, after sitting and thinking for a while, I tried again. This time it worked easily. One must get a feel for objects, respect their unique characters, to work successfully with them. A stove will always tell you what you are doing wrong, if you listen to it. Fifteen minutes later I drank the first cup of hot tea, prepared on the rocket stove.

After letting the stove cool, which took several hours, we loaded the concrete blocks into the back of the car and drove them down as far as the place where our entry path enters the bush, then Attila carried them into the camp, one by one. I will build the rocket stove again when next we need it. Hopefully the driveway will be installed by then, and it will be clear where best to locate the stove.

Later in the afternoon, Attila brought his chain saw back to Granny and Grandpa’s house, and proceeded to bring down one of three dead Elms, that were close to house. After felling the first tree, Attila decided to leave the other two, as they lean towards the house, and bring a come-along and rope on a future visit, to ensure the last two trees fall away from the house and not on it. As Attila sectioned the felled tree into logs, I gathered and stacked the upper branches.

The clearing of the camp lot is progressing nicely. Attila worked very, very hard clearing brush yesterday, and the results are very pleasing. Working on the camp lot will be a lot easier when the driveway is in!
CampJune8 2014
The rocket stove was temporarily assembled at Granny and Grandpa’s house. The extra concrete slabs are to be used for the permanent installation at the camp, to ensure the stove is level. It only took about ten minutes to put everything together. The twigs that are being used for fuel are portruding out of the side of the stove. The electric burner elements are on the stovetop and the concrete slab in the foreground of the picture.
Rocketstove 1
Here it is, the fully functioning rocket stove, with the kettle boiling on the burner. The kettle is on a tilt, as the electric element does not work well as grate, but will do until a proper replacement can be procurred. As you can see, it does not take very many twigs to boil water!
Rocketstove 2
The two remaining dead Elm’s. Actually, this is one Elm with two trunks. The wood from the dead Elm is very dense and heavy, which made clearing the brush and stacking the logs a fair bit of work. On this project I worked right alongside Attila, and we were both wet through from our efforts at completion.
Deadelm 3

Worldly Distractions


Date: 9:00 AM EDT Monday 9 June 2014
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Temperature: 18.4°C
Dewpoint: 6.8°C
Humidity: 46%
Wind: NE 8 km/h


“If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down.”
Mary Pickford (1893 – 1979)

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Let’s see more of that rocket stove in future, eh? I am trying to figure out what’s what, when I look at it. Very handy, it seems.


It sounds as if a good time was had by all, despite all the strenuous work. Good for both of you!


Kate, I am impressed with the concrete block rocket stove! It uses three regular concrete blocks and one h-block. We could not find h-blocks for sale around here, so Attila took a regular concrete block and sawed the end off. The short block in the picture is the h-block. If we had used a regular h-block we could have created two burners, each with their own “firebox”.

We covered it with a green garbage bag at the camp, mostly to keep the concrete dry so that starting a fire would be easier in wet weather, and also to camouflage the blocks to deter theft. Although, it would be a desperate individual that would cross an eight foot deep ditch to steal a concrete block and carry it back out through the eight foot deep ditch!


Thanks Wendy, we are having a ball. The best part for me is the look in Attila’s eyes when he rests during his breaks, while we are working at our camp, it is a look of total contentment. What a happy thing it is to see a loved one happy!!!


Pioneers of the North… that is my name for you two now. I love it. Love that you are cooking on your rocket stove. Growing up, our family would go camping in the New Hampshire White Mountains for 2 weeks every summer. I can recall now that excitement of getting out of our beds at 3 a.m. and on the road by 4 to be at the campgrounds for opening time to get the best campsite… two weeks of heaven living in the woods… you are bringing back those memories for me Maggie and I thank you. xxx


How lucky we are Bex, to have such wonderful memories, and the very real, very concrete knowledge of what is important in life. It was heaven, wasn’t it!

You know, Attila and I are “living our dream”. How many humans today would regard shopping at the dump store, sitting in swarms of mosquitoes, slogging at physical labour, hot and sweaty, all day long, using a stinky outhouse, etc. etc. as a living dream? I think, for us, the dream element is the connection we feel, to the land, to our ancestors, to what is real about life itself. When the pretence is gone, it is wonderful to find that your life has deep, mysterious, magnificent, and beautiful meaning… and that EVERY life, at its very core, merits the same adjectives.

Tom McCubbin

Such playfulness! What a great time you are having!


That we are Tom! When I was about seven years old, staying with my Granny at her house, I had a clean old rag in which I wrapped my “kit”, plate, cup, a sandwich, some water… I set off into the bush behind the house and spent my days adventuring… full circle now, back to the beginning again…