Preparations for Free Wood-Stove

free sounded good
all that cast iron and unseen
engineering, convection, conduction
and combustion
put to work
warming my
drafty old house

just rip down
the wall in the
corner of the living room
and pipe that sucker
into the old chimney

interior wall demolition-
16 hours, blood and
sweat labor

interior clean-up
2 hours sweat
+ black lung +
two times
howling through
the drive by truckers
and their
dirty south

remove
subfloor
reframe sublfloor
2x10s, ¾’’ plywood
$100  6 hours

chimney flue liner-
22 ft. shiny stainless
$1200
install flue liner +
remove chimney cap
4 hours @ $70
a lot for
2 fearless roofers
father and son
both slow,
dangerous and
lazy
$ 560

thermix
chimney insulation
2 dusty bags
vermiculite and portand cement
$110+upper respiratory wheezing
+ reinstall chimney cap
40ft off the ground
no harness
no rope
they call these roofs
widow makers
4 hours
fearful home owner labor
$0
42 new gray hairs

tile subfloor
new slate hearth
slate, tile
mortar, grout
cement board
$200 + 6 hours+
minor marital strife

between the flooring
and wall finish phases
we had a few fires

we joked with a friend
taking on his own
free woodstove project,
“1st one with a fire… in the box,
wins”

began cutting
project scraps into 15” lengths
busting up pallets
trying out pressed
bio-logs

stretching our
stiff and forgotten
fire building
muscles

stacking kindling in the tiny box
observing whether
the clearances
we’d decided upon
were legit.

we knew they
were not quite to code
but hoped not to make
adjacent walls hot to the touch

a few warm
weekend afternoons
lazy, the three of us
the dogs too
sprawled
on the rug
before the stove

two naps
we won’t soon
forget
small ceremonies
of thanks
bowing to
135 lbs of hot
cast iron
in our small
house
built a century
ago for miners
much tougher
than us

next day
back to it

hang  ⅝” drywall
over old lath,
salvaged drywall +
1 new piece of ⅝ cut in half
in the rain in the home depot parking lot
to fit into subaru
+ 4 hours
incredible cursing
lots of loud rock’n’roll
12 light beers

add furring strips
to ceiling
attempt
to bring framing flush
with existing finish ceiling
+hang drywall
4 hours
2nd attempt
after not-flush with
1 ½ inches of furring
try 1 ¾ this time
2 hours
bloody hand
2 raniers, 1 stout

tape
mud
sand
drywall
repeat,
repeat,
repeat,
$1000 to contractor,
8 hours
over 7 days

first frost
can’t run furnace
too much drywall
dust, air return
covered by
plastic sheeting
within dust enclosure
system
50 degrees
inside house
increased
marital strife
decreased
electric bill for October

cut check
to contractor,
amazing job,
seamless,
prime drywall,
more respiratory investment
carefully mop down
and sweep up
drywall dust
delicately take down
plastic, wipe down
adjacent surfaces
2 late nights
red eyes
too much beer,
dust and paint

remove old
skim-coat cement
from 100 year old
brick chimney
2 hours, new dust,
new mess

try to drill pilot holes
in brick chimney
with regular 7amp cordless drill
2 hours, little progress
huge headache
major marital strife
child neglect

next day
same job
this time
roto-hammer rental
$22, 1 hour labor
satisfaction
priceless

cut and hang
metal lath over brick
sheet lath $13
+ 2 hours
bloody hands

paint
primed walls
2 coats, 1 gallon paint
$25
1 hour
family labor
mother
father
son
one dog
sneezing the
whole time
doesn’t like
the smell
seems to approve of
the color,
white

three days off

just enough time
to savor
the extra space
of having
no woodstove
on the hearth

rearranged
living room
32nd birthday
party
wine, soup, cake
a great seat,
rocking chair on
hearth

“do we really
want a woodstove?”
I ask
response=
look indicative of
marital strife

tomorrow
install stacked
stone vaneer
over lath covered
chimney interior
mix mortar
layout
and cut
stone
so much
wet, white
muddy cement
paste on
front porch
deck boards
check level,
check corners,
stack, stack,
trim,
mason’s hammer
hope,
luck
finished
3 hours? 4?
10 plus

a short break for
parent teacher
conference, stinky
torn jeans
covered in cement

wrestle stove
back to hearth
from kitchen
raise the pipe
light the kindling
crack a beer
check the kindling
check again,
open the damper
check again,
add wood
add wood,
wait,
warmth,
glow.

66 hours
sixteen weeks
$3,230 not counting beer!

crisp november night,
cast-iron kiss,
curled up beside our
free wood-stove.

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