Friday, January 6, 2012

Journey of a thousand miles

They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.  So here is my first step!  I am tired of watching you all pick on Serea on Facebook; I'll take some of the heat off her LOL!

 Living in almost complete isolation like I do, and loving to put words on paper, perhaps blogging can be my new outlet.  During winter I tend to have more time to Facebook.  I hope to put some of that energy towards blogging.  It really helps to get stuff off my chest,  here goes.

I am struggling so with winter.  Living in an old house and also spending so much of my day our on the farm in the elements has made me super-sensitive to cold weather.  And I dislike the ups and downs of Arkansas weather even more because about the time you think you have your winter wardrobe figured out, summer comes for a visit, much like it has here lately!
For years now I have been painfully cold anytime I SIT for extended periods.  It doesn't seem to be connected with the temperature of the house so much as the draftiness and the fact that my circulation slows whenever I am not active.  Dr. Lee told me to get used to it, I am just cold natured.  Last year I felt like I would die while sitting at the computer paying bills, partly because it was by a north window.  In January I had a hysterectomy, and hot flashes opened up a whole new world for me.  Now I was either roasting or frozen as the case may be instead of just being frozen all the time.  Anyway, I became determined to become warm, not hot nor cold.
I had an energy audit done on the house and Jim Reeves said 9 tubes of caulk would change my life.  I am very uneducated in matters of home upkeep, and I thought caulk was just for the outside of a house.  I had now idea that interior walls, trim and floorboards had a life of their own and were actually BREATHING on me!  Once I discovered how easy it was to use silicon caulk to stop up these holes, I became quite enthusiastic about improving my situation.  I guess before I thought it was hopeless- "I live in an old house and I will never be comfortable."  Now I feel like a warrior going to battle to take back my territory.
Our upstairs bedroom had no ceiling, so even with an electric heater, it was never warm: all the heat went up.  Getting dressed (or UNDRESSED) was a scary proposition.  58 degrees does not motivate one to start the day like flylady recommends " get dressed-to the shoes".  One might prefer just to take all the covers with you and relocate to a warmer dressing area!  So my dear son was drawn into another of my harebrained schemes, which was to make a ceiling out of plywood and insulate above it.  The idea worked in theory but is not much on looks.  But by the time Steve helped us close up all the odd angles and I attacked with the caulk gun, we were able to obtain 68 degrees with the electric heater.  Perhaps aesthetics will come later.  I love interior decorating, but utility issues must be addressed first.
This winter's project was to have the chimney inspected and find out why we can't stay warm with the wood stove.  Everyone else said they had a stove like ours and it was keeping them warm.  Why were we not warm?  I began pinching pennies and selling goats to save for a new stove.  When the man came out to give me a bid on fixing the chimney and installing a new stove, I discovered behind the stove was this huge chimney/fireplace with NO PIPE attached to the stove.  No wonder on windy days the smoke came into the house!  No wonder the heat was all going back up the chimney!  Not to mention why I experienced flu symptoms and felt better when I left the stove area!  I am always amazed at how a few simple modern improvements can change the efficiency of an old house.
I feel very rewarded for my penny pinching and saving.  Last Saturday the new chimney and stove were installed, and I can't believe how much stress that old wood stove was causing me.  No longer do I have to babysit the stove for half and hour to get a fire started!  This stove has a DRAFT.  Push it left to start a fire, right to slow it down and last all night.  The fire catches and takes off almost instantly when it gets the proper draft. No longer do I have to babysit the fire all day to keep it burning, nor haul five gallon buckets of ash out of it.  After a week I only had a 1/2 a bucket of ashes. Even with a very small fire, the living room is 80 degrees.  This has become a problem because my son's bedroom is an annex of the living room, and he said it was too hot to sleep.  (Perhaps we are all having trouble acclimatizing!)  Which leads me to the next home improvement project- cutting a vent in the ceiling to let some of that wondrous warm air go straight up to the bedroom.  Bye Bye electric heater!

This week I cleaned my laundry room and caulked all the available surfaces.  Plan to do a room each day, but since summer is here for a visit I think I will just go for a hike or visit my horse- in a T-SHIRT!  More later as the warmth saga unfolds


  1. Audrey,

    I am enjoying this opportunity to peek into your life. It reminds me of when we lived on Shadrick Ferry Road in Franklin County, Kentucky. We heated with wood, took showers year-around on the open-to-the-weather back porch and bathed the children in the galvanized, portable, bathtub we put by the wood stove.

    It was while we lived there that you and our youngest daughter, Amy, became close friends. Now, I look to you for advice while helping Amy with her goats. Thank you so very much.

    Please continue your blog. It is a pleasure to read.

  2. Thanks Audrey for taking some of the heat off of me! I am looking forward to getting more of a glimpse into your life!