The Chimney Sweep

Today is the first day of spring as far as Attila and I are concerned! The sun is shining, and the temperature is rising above the freezing point where it landed during the night. Heating season is officially over, and the masonry heater has been allowed to rest. We will still build the occasional fire in the cast iron wood stove downstairs, to chase off any chill, but that won’t be necessary very often.

To celebrate this first day of spring, my cleaning project has begun in earnest. It begins with the role of chimney sweep. What a job!!! Five full coal buckets were filled and dumped in the ash pile outside. Each time fine ash billowed, as it came out of the heater, shovelful by shovelful. It took the removal of one whole bucket to reach the grate on which the wood sits to burn. Then two buckets were removed from the cavity above the opening for the ash dump; no wonder it was blocked. Once the ash dump was cleared, the next step was to remove a bucket of ash from each of the back clean-out, and the side clean-out. Then the shop vac picked up stray ash in the firebox and both clean-outs. By the time all of this was accomplished I was pitch black to the elbows, covered with a fine ash dust, and ready to remove my blackened clothing and hop into the shower.

The glass in the fireplace door was then cleaned with wet newspaper dipped in a wee bit of ash. This is a miracle cleaner for glass fireplace doors; it leaves the glass spotless.

With the drywall sanding done, and the fireplace cleaned, there was nothing to generate more fine dust in the living area. It was time for serious deep dusting, and cleaning the blinds. I hate cleaning blinds, and will never again use them as window treatments, no matter how much sense they make in functional terms.

The deep dusting began with the corner entertainment unit, which took several hours to disassemble and clean. The sink full of warm soapy water was black and murky by the time the job was done. Heating with wood has a real down side, and that is the ash. Then the storage unit along the wall was tackled, with a fresh sink of warm soapy water, and again that turned black and murky by the time the job was done.

Tomorrow the plan is to move along to the computer stand and window area, then to the dining room, then the kitchen, and then last, the blinds. That is my week of projects. Also on my list is sanding the deck railing, staining the deck railing, touching up the stain on the deck boards, touching up the paint on the siding along the deck, removing the huge planter from the deck, and removing the plastic window coverings from the screened in porch along with all the staples that held them on.

As I cross things off the list, more get added to the bottom of the list; it seems a bottomless list!

Attila has felled a dozen or more trees and is in the process of sectioning the logs and stacking them as firewood. He is also installing new trim in the recently drywalled hallway, and around the four doorways in the hallway. Also on his list for tonight is leaf blowing, removing the dead leaves from the front garden and around the woodpile. When it gets dark outside he will be back in to have a nice hot bath before turning in for the night.

My second cousin ML, who lives in Kelowna, British Columbia, is coming to Ontario. It is a sad journey that she will be making, to a funeral, with her partner who lost his sister. His sister and her husband lived on a river island in Northern Ontario, and were travelling back to their home from the Marina after Christmas shopping, by small boat in November, when she and her husband went missing. They were found in March, in their boat with their Christmas shopping, frozen in the ice. No one knows the details of what happened, but at least the family can grieve, knowing what became of their loved ones. Our thoughts are with the family members this weekend, as they gather to say their farewells.

Harriet and Hogan visited on Sunday, to drop off our annual supply of maple syrup. We try to purchase it from a farm near London, Ontario, as we like their syrup, and they are reasonably priced. The maple syrup where we live is very expensive, costing about 50% more, and not nearly so nice, in our opinion.

We had a nice visit. They were up to drop off their ATVs, and to do a spring check up on their cottage. All is well at the cottage, it is always nice when there are no surprises. They even had a chance to drive by our new camp, which we will have possession of in two weeks time (just in time for the beginning of black fly season, I have my nets ready, LOL!).

Worldly Distractions


Date: 5:00 PM EDT Monday 5 May 2014
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 12.5°C
Dewpoint: 0.7°C
Humidity: 44%
Wind: W 17 gust 30 km/h


“You have to accept the plan and realize that if you slip, and you might, you can’t use that as a reason to give up or stop.”
Jennifer Hudson

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Condolences to your family, once again. How very sad.

It sounds as if you’re about to enjoy the spring exercise program, with no gym fees and a clean house at the end. Need any more rationalizations to help you through these tasks? I have quite a pile of them, which sometimes work. 🙂

Have you told Mist yet that she’s going camping this summer? I bet she’ll have lots of rules about it in no time.


What a sad and haunting story.


Wendy, I might just need to dip into that pile of rationalizations before I reach the end of my list!

Oh yes, Mist and camping! Hadn’t been thinking about that actually. We haven’t broken the news to her yet. It is probably better if she creates her rules “on site” so to speak. If we tell her about the camp ahead of time, she might come up with unrealistic demands! 🙂


Kate, it really is a sad and haunting story. Every time I think about it, it follows me around for days. They were such brave people, choosing to live on an island, only accessible by boat, as the only winter inhabitants. One wonders what happened that day, but we will probably never know. It has been a very difficult winter for their immediate family, not knowing what happened until March.


My sympathies to you and your family. That is so tragic, and so long to wait to find out.


Thank you for your kind thoughts Joan. Knowing is so important for the grieving process and closure.


How sad for you all. My sympathies to you all.

I remember the ash over everything from a wood stove and we swore we’d never do it again when we moved out of that house. We have enough “dust and dander” here with the two collie dogs who produce enough spare furs to clothe all of Canada I think!

I’m wondering how the idea of heating with wood will go over with possible buyers for the house? Is that a good selling feature there or a draw-back? Is there a back-up heating system that you just don’t use that could be implemented instead?



Wendy, thank you for the condolences, sorry for not mentioning it earlier.


Bex, thank you for your sympathies, these will all be passed along to my cousin.

Heating with wood where we live is a great alternative, and most people use wood heat as a supplemental source of heat. Our house has electric heaters that we cannot afford to use, but we are not affluent people, as most are here, so the masonry heater will be a selling point because it will be regarded as a supplementary heating source. Seasonal people, young people, people with local family and friends, heat with wood without issue.

Our issues with wood heat are particular to our situation. We cannot afford to use the alternative electric heat, and we can afford wood fuel to heat the house. We have no family or friends in the this area, everyone is distant from us, whereas seasonal people do not expect family and friends to be near their seasonal, recreational property. People who have family here do not need to travel overnight to see their loved ones, so they can heat with wood and not face total isolation. The list goes on, why heating with wood has been so restrictive for us, and would not be restrictive for people living under different circumstances. It just isn’t working for us in the here and now. For instance, Terra and Lares heat their house with wood, and since everything they need is close by they are not isolated during the winter months as they tend the wood stoves. Isolation is the real problem, and wood heating is a symptom, one of many symptoms. The whole isolation equation is made up of a complex net of factors, which we have tried and tried and tried to balance and get working together, to no avail.

We both feel that this home is lovely, and would not leave it but for the time and place where we find ourselves.

This location is seen as highly desirable by a lot of people, we are the rare birds, who find that it does not suit us.

Tom McCubbin

Hi Maggie!

Sorry to hear of your family losses! All that work you are doing makes me feel guilty that I don’t even have a to-do list. Guess I better go make one up.8-)


Thank you for your sympathy Tom!

Ah, the to do list, or in our case lists. Attila and I are both prone to feeling overwhelmed, so we make lists to make sure we don’t forget anything, and most importantly, to cross things off as they are accomplished so that we feel we have things under control. I think organized people don’t need lists, they just do what needs to be done! But that is not us. LOL