Saturday, March 5, 2011

A good night

Some nights are just good nights. A good night in my mind involves a 650 degree stove top temperature and a 720 degree stack temperature. Those numbers are usually closer to 600 and 900, respectively—not near as good in terms of heat output. 50 degrees can make an extraordinary difference on the top—like, for example, the difference between a 72 degree house and a 76 degree house on an eight degree night.

Blankets are for many things in this house: folding, putting away, pushing off, and looking at. I prefer to look at them. Looking at them implies they weren't needed in the first place, and are already folded and sitting in their proper place. Folding, putting away, and pushing off all suggest that blanket use was necessary in the first place, which begs the question: why? Is the user sick? Would 80 feel better?

One time I'm told the place got up to 90. But I wouldn't know because I was asleep at the time, and you know how these stories grow—in reality, it may have been a far more reasonable 88. Anyway, this night happened during our first year of using our wood stove—back when we would turn the act of loading the stove into a 3D version of Tetris, packing every possible inch of the stove's firebox with wood. A fun game, and winning meant getting an overnight burn and waking up to a warm house in the morning. But this was not a terribly efficient way to burn the stove, as it required choking the stove's intake to the point that the chimney would smoke and the glass in the stove's door would turn black—creosote-building time...

Nowadays we're much more conservative in our stove-loading technique. Three pieces is the magic number—the stove runs much more open, the smoke is almost non-existent between reloads, and the glass stays nice and clean. All is well, and every now and then, the efforts are rewarded with a 650+ stove top temperature. Some nights are just good nights!