Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Heating the House in the Old Days

Englander Wood Burning Stove
This is the wood burning fireplace that we bought and installed when we first built the house. The brick work was completed by my Dad and Jim whose efforts over several days laying the brick turned our frigid house into a habitable place. The Englander model has come in handy during the many occasions when we've lost power out here in the rural area north east of Dallas. Sometimes it's off for hours at a time.

During the early days before we had interior walls, insulation, proper wiring or central heat, we depended on this old fashioned method of keeping warm. I'll never forget the time the water in the dog's bowl froze in the kitchen. That year, we learned to leave a faucet dripping slowly after replacing a hose in the washing machine that froze and burst. Although we savor the fond memories of wearing three pair of socks and two sweatsuits under a coat, we don't miss the old days when we put groceries into the refrigerator to keep them from freezing.

Thank goodness for plastic tarps and a staple gun, we were able to partition off the living room from the incomplete second floor. Before that, most of the heat from our small space heaters we had running on long extension cords escaped easily through the attic vents. Until we were able to install ceilings and walls in that area, we were trying to heat the outdoors.

My Dad, who was visiting us from the sunny state of Florida was good natured about our predicament when staying with us in the winter of 1990, the first year after we moved into the "construction zone" that we call our house. His comments when the three of us huddled together inches from the space heaters that did little more than heat our shins was unforgettable.

"It's not cold," he said, his breath forming clouds of wispy smoke, "it's brisk."

We still laugh about his understatement that day. When we get an ice storm, snow or freezing rain, we quote him with words forced from chattering teeth, "It's not cold, it's brisk".


  1. Hello, this rustic place in the universe was wild before the two of you tamed it for the settlers that followed. The Englander Wood Burning Stove must have felt like civilization at last! Your home is beautiful and has to be a huge source of pride being built by your own hands.

  2. Hi Mike. Ah, taming the wild frontier. Not too much really. Just the unfinished house. We are still under construction, as you know. But we have a plan this year to put in carpet upstairs and finally paint the bedroom. We'll see if that happens. Hah. We love it out here so much and still find it hard to believe we live in this wonderful place. Thank you for stopping in. Peg