Ted’s essays

heating with wood

In N. Calif. I heated exclusively with wood for 19 years in a 1900-sq-ft home I had built with no alternative to wood heat (and passive solar). I was always able to find places to cut. I burned 1-2–year-old oak primarily, but also other local wood with excellent heat value. Fir was bottom-end stuff there, and pine not worth the bother. Those did not put out enough heat, burned up too fast and left a lot of ash. I didn’t understand the value of splitting mauls. I bought one to see it magically split wood with a single stroke like everyone who loved them talked about. But they had to be driven through each round with the sledgehammer. That was […]

midnight prowler

At 0030 last night Beagle Brain went off as if the zombie apocalypse had begun at our door. In a flash I had my robe on and was in the front room. The motion-detector flood lights were on, but everywhere I looked was vacant of mammalian beings… or anything at all visible but the snow, river and trees that normally occupy our riverside yard. Yet Beagle Brain was barking at extreme pitch, far more so than the normal ‘won’t shut up cuz there is a deer walking in the woods’. I continue investigating, then see a flash of a man walking by our front window! Briskly. I dash to the side window to catch a retreating view… big parka, fur-faced […]

coffee roasting

My joy of coffee evolved a long ways over the years. Appreciation for quality drove me to more and more select roasters, fresher and fresher suppliers, then finally to the fanatics of select green coffee beans at Sweet Maria’s. …We are more than just another online store, we are a virtual coffee university. Simply put, we really like what we do… If you decide you are ready to graduate from high-end roasted coffee, I doubt you can do much better than to buy fresh green beans from their round-the-world selection. The variety is nearly overwhelming. Simply start with one of their samplers to get a feel for the choices. My current favorite java comes from, of all places, Java […]

first aid failure

I tested our first aid supplies, phone list, land-line telephone, backup telephone, radio network and found all of them wanting. Many details to attend to and some significant repairs in planning/function. A dog guest and Scooter were having a gay old time when she somehow impaled herself on a steel post I had tried to remove some time ago… but didn’t persevere as I rather obviously should have. She set to screaming in obvious injured and confused pain trapped with this rod entering her gut and nearly exiting her back. Nobody but me could get close (she trusts me more than anyone on the planet, though she is more devoted to, and adoring of Missy than anyone on Earth). I […]

splitting station

I am working over the now enclosed breezeway. It is nearly completely sealed from the weather and has significant insulation. I expect it to make a pleasant work environment when I get done working on it. Akin to spending 100 hours setting up a computer to save yourself 5 hours of bookkeeping. Since our cabin is rather small, our woodstove is necessarily small as well. Firewood requires another split or two before it can come in to heat the house. Thus every day we heat with wood, that is to say every day this winter, I spend 15 minutes or so splitting logs and kindling. That process had to be designed into my workshop / storage space. The windows also […]

box fan box

We have been living with a really ugly shroud for our box fan. It started life as a temporary housing for my box fan to vent the smoke from my home coffee roasting out the shop window. I hinged it to the ceiling, then swung it out of the way for the 99% of the time it was not in use. In that application, being ugly just did not inspire change. It made its way here from that house, serving the same need in a similar fashion at my studio window. Forest fire smoke motivated me to drag out the single-room air filter to do a tolerable job of clearing the air we breathe while indoors. It helps our bodies […]

firewood factory

My tool set for processing firewood. Missing from the photo are my chainsaw and its manual counterpart, the crosscut saw. I’ll have to update the photo later. From right to left … (isn’t that how we all process?) hatchet (old friend) probably a pound and a quarter head, for kindling splintering and light-duty splitting. hand splitting maul, 3 1/2 pound head, for light-to-medium splitting taking standard split wood to small stove size. small axe for light-to-medium trimming, limbing and splitting. axe, another old friend, to trim, limb, cut, chop and split. double-bit axe, a good, old one, new to me for extended cutting. splitting maul, a real one for turning Montana evergreen rounds into standard split firewood. wedge pair and […]

woodshed

I just finished expanding last year’s winter heat storage unit and improving on it a bit. With 20-bucks-worth of new lumber, I was able to scrounge the rest of the needed materials. Good thing, because that left me cash to pay someone else to cut and split a cord of wood for us. A neighbor charges $120 for a fat cord of dry lodgepole pine delivered. It is hard to beat a deal like that. Lets me focus on my mountain of projects that I cannot easily subcontract… like building the woodshed. Stacked inside is one-third of a cord left over from last year. Piled on the lawn is the first of two cords I’m hiring done. He would have […]